Sunday, December 9, 2012

Castaway on the Moon: A Meditation

Castaway on the Moon is a Korean “romantic” comedy of the most quirky nature. At the beginning it has some uncomfortable similarities to the film Cast Away, and I wondered if it would be a satire of that film.  But apart from a few jokes, it quickly moves ahead with it's own unique storyline. It is always fun to watch, and often laugh-out-loud hilarious.  But it also has a very serious side that isn’t to be seen on the surface.  In watching the film, it strikes me to be an example of what I see every day in our homeless community.

Homelessness isn’t a failure on a person’s part.  It is rather the place where a tragedy and a person’s weakness meets and they are unable to keep up the appearances of a “normal” life.  It is a surrender to a simpler, more foundational life, where the needs are simpler, and one hands one’s life over to fate. 

What makes homelessness a terrible crisis is the attitude toward the homeless in society.  That they are in some way criminals because they have been unable to get housing.  That they are dangerous, scary people, who need to be kept away from our children and our neighborhoods.  That they are disgusting, and their techniques of survival are reproachful.  That they must be doing things that are unseemly and unacceptable.

This is why the homeless are, to a degree, isolated.  And this is the worst of the experience.  To be homeless is to not have anyone to support you, to care for you. 

Everyone talks about the causes of homelessness, as if addiction and mental illness are the main issues for all homeless.  The main issue is the lack of a support network.  There is no one to grant help when help is needed.  This initial separation between the homeless and the “normal” world is exasperated when the homeless person becomes adept at being alone and surviving through unconventional ways.  They become more unique and so more alone.

Of course, everyone says, there’s nothing wrong with being unique.  But none of us believe it.  To be unique is to be someone that we are happy to have somewhere else.  But in our family, in our neighborhood, in our community, we want people to follow our standards.  And those who don’t do that… well, they can go somewhere else.

And so the homeless do.  They are pushed “somewhere else” and “somewhere else” and “somewhere else” until there is no place for them to live.  No place to be.

Until someone comes and says, “I don’t care how different you are.  I don’t care if you aren’t like everyone else.  I don’t care if you are irritating and even a problem sometimes.  I want you to be a part of my community.  I want you to be in my neighborhood.  I want you to be part of my family.”

And then healing, for all of us, can begin.

If you’d like to know more about our community and family of the homeless in Portland, OR, please check out our website:

Castaway on the Moon is available in the U.S. on Netflix Instant.

No comments:

Post a Comment