This blog is currently on hiatus owing to work commitments. Whilst I still keep an eye on the goings on at RiAus, and contribute to the work of the good folks at eLife, little will be added to this blog for the foreseeable future. Simon Says remains open for business, albeit at a reduced capacity. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope the archive of content found here will prove to be of interest.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Samson & Delilah

I have just watched the Australian film Samson & Delilah* and I feel compelled to write something about it. Normally I plan my posts, think about how I am going to structure them, but the film was so strong that I want to just write in response, just as the credits have finished rolling.

Samson & Delilah is a very depressing film. Yet in spite of this, I urge you to watch it.

It follows two Aboriginal teenagers who leave their village following a tragedy. They are lost, abused, destitute and desperate. They have each other, but that is it. Redemption seems so far off as their problems worsen. The film doesn’t even have a happy ending, just the merest suggestion of hope.

Naturally, the film is centred on the problems the Aboriginal people face in modern Australia. For these particular individuals, life has tripped them up and is kicking them while they are down, even though Delilah in particular is a wonderfully caring, hard-working individual. Their hope for solvency lies in her artistic talents, but she can’t sell to galleries: these only buy through whitefella agents who buy for pittance and sell for thousands. But their problems (which are disturbing and horrific) lead to bad habits (namely petrol sniffing), which compound their problems.

What provokes me to write here isn’t really the problems that Aboriginal peoples face, though that is something close to my heart, nor is it the problems indigenous peoples face around the world (the film is supported by Survival International, the movement for tribal peoples). What troubles me is that nobody was prepared to help. Samson and Delilah were relegated to the shadows, a problem to be ignored, rather than remedied. That they sniff petrol does not stop them being people, beyond help. It’s all the more reason to help, before we lose them completely. There’s a crucial scene (in my opinion) in a church in the town where Samson and Delilah seek refuge (I think its Alice Springs). Delilah, after surviving an horrific ordeal, stares at the altar, just like her gran used to do in their village. She needs help, but nobody in town even pays scant attention to them. A member of the clergy stands behind her. Is he there to talk to her? Or is he there to stop her stealing anything? We don’t know, but he seems to make no effort to help her suffering, instead he just watches her suspiciously until she leaves: this under the cross, the symbol that reminds us that Jesus died, in the most horrific and shameful fashion, to take away our sins and prevent the need for any of us to suffer any more.

Samson & Delilah is a fictional tale, but I couldn't help thinking that, really, it is truer than any charity appeal could ever be.

So where are we, in this modern day and age? Are we cocooned in our homes, pleasant and comfortable that they are, ignoring the world out there, leaving things we find uncomfortable in the shadows, or are we actively trying to fight suffering, in our own ways, trying to combat injustices. Jesus suffered so that we don’t have to. We should be working tirelessly to make sure that stays true.

Even if you do not believe, do not share the Christian faith, I ask of you to consider your gifts, and how they might be used to help. You can’t change the whole world, as the saying goes, but you can change somebody’s. Do it for whatever reason you like, as selfish or as selfless as you wish, but don’t let people suffer in your world when they needn’t. Don’t just walk on by, however difficult it may be to stop, turn and help. A person struggling is not a person lost.

I've been thinking for some time about how I might do something more useful and caring in life. This film has spurred me on to think about it much more constructively.

*Technically I watched it on Saturday, but I don't have the Internet at home at the moment. I'm aware that this is the most out-and-out religious thing I've ever written, but this really struck me as I was watching, and I feel compelled to share.


  1. I think there is a truth that should speak to all people. Particularly those with faith to not judge and to accept others (and yourself).

    And then from there comes the kindness and love that helps you to help others.

    I was once asked "How can you love others as you love yourself, if you do not love yourself?". I think the opposite of love is fear and we all live in the self imposed bubbles you speak of out of fear, and the fear is not just of others but of ourselves.

    I am lucky to have a job that changes lives, but it is indirect. I help people in the street sometimes but only when I feel I can. Sometimes the fear is too much. But maybe each time we do this we break down not only our own fear but that of other people in showing it is safe to help. Safe to step out of the bubble, safe to see other people and be seen.

    That is the dream, otherwise it all seems to be such a loss.

  2. Indeed I think you are correct in that it is fear that prevents us from stepping outside of our bubbles. You and I know one another initially from Join Me, where the encouragement is to perform random acts of kindness, which benefit both the recipient and giver because it is nice to be nice. I've drifted from that and perhaps I'm feeling a loss because I've not stepped out from the norm to be nice to somebody for no reason for a long time. There's something odd about a society that frowns upon people deliberately doing a nice thing to somebody they don't know. Ive gotten used to not stepping out of the ordinary and doing something kind.

    For me the film reaffirmed to me how lucky I am and that perhaps I should share some of the wealth (be it financial, possessions or just good company) that I own.

    Many people with a faith judge others. I hope I am not one of those people, but I'm aware that sometimes I might do so inadvertently. But I have a love for people, regardless of faith, background or ethnicity, and completely separate to my religious beliefs. Everybody, in my view, deserves to be loved and helped, if they want it. Whatever the motive, I wish more people would act on that, myself included.

  3. "How can you love others as you love yourself, if you do not love yourself?"

    Thank you for posting this Siobhan - this rang very true with me, and I must learn to love myself. Then I might be stronger at sharing my blessings.