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.