Thrive, the movie

My comments on John Robbins’ review of the movie ‘Thrive’

Ah, conspiracy theories, don’t you love em? People always try to find a ‘simple’ solution to the complexities of human life. And if we can point the finger at those evil people over there then it lets us off scot free. Then we don’t have to look at ourselves. We are the ‘goodies’ and they are the ‘baddies’. The solution is simple – that word again! – get rid of the baddies over there and we’ll all be right. Problem solved. We like that clean simple solution. Perhaps that’s why Tolkien’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ is so popular. The good people of Rohan and Gondor versus the evil realm of Sauron in Mordor. Tolkien was wise enough to recognise the presence of evil among the good people of Rohan and Gondor, but the division between us and them is very clear.

But as in all human affairs nothing is ever simple. The reason for that is that the problem is not that we are good and they are bad, but that we all are bad. Robbins quotes Solzhenitsyn “The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart.” That outlines the problem. Evil is in every human heart.

But Robbins himself does not fully understand the depths of the evil in the human heart. When he discusses the theory that the idea of anthropogenic global warming is fabricated as an excuse to establish a global police state, he says: ‘If this is true, just about every scientific expert in the world has been taken in by the hoax’. I don’t want to comment here on the idea of global warming, but on the idea of scientific experts being taken in by a hoax. Such is the prevalence of evil in the human heart that scientific experts will get taken in by hoaxes if it suits their particular evil. Did you notice the ‘us’ and ‘them’ that Robbins sneaks in there? It is the ‘scientific experts’ who have got it right, and we are of course with them, while the conspiracy theorists have got it wrong. Robbins has the same ‘us’ and ‘them’ problem as the ones he purports to critique. Robbins merely shifts the conspiracy to something else.

Robbins quotes Solzhenitsyn but does not actually address the problem that Solzhenitsyn raises. I am evil, you are evil. The evil is within us. The problem is not out there. It is within me. Everything we do is polluted by evil.

Now it is obvious that some people live more evil lives than others. Adolf Hitler’s life was manifestly more evil than Mother Teresa’s life. And yet the evil is in all of us. It is the very ones who strive to lead a good life that acknowledge this. That is the underlying problem, Robbins sort of recognises it but fails to address it properly. He seeks answers in community, in relationships, in lessening fear, in increasing trust and compassion. Us, people with evil in our hearts, trying not to be evil. The tragedy of human history is that we have been unable to do it and are still unable to do it.

So then how do we address it? What can we do to rid our hearts of the evil in them. We cannot. Evil hearts cannot get rid of evil. If we have to do it ourselves there is only despair. Total, utter despair. Blackness without hope. Forever.

That is the problem of the human race. That is the problem that Jesus Christ came to address. He is our creator, but he became a man, a human being, one of us, just to address the despair that we humans face. He is the one whose heart is truly free of evil, who lived the life free of evil that we should have lived. And then he died to deal with the evil that we have done. And was raised to new life. In doing so he has replaced despair with hope. Good, solid, eternal hope.