I watched “A Marriage Story” last week.
It was on my bucket list last year but I only got to watch it recently. It took a long time to happen but the anticipation never subsided. Scarlett Johansson, the lead actress, never disappoints with her versatility. People from the comment section of the movie trailer on youtube highly commend the actors, the storyline, the accuracy of the scenes, etc. And so I watched it. Even though there were inappropriate dialogues and the story centralized on a legal decree that the Catholic teaching does not support, I still proceeded to watch it. I was waiting to be awestruck by Johansson’s range as an actress. To find another reason to tag her as my favorite Hollywood actress…and yes, as my favorite avenger too.
But one scene ruined it all for me. It only took this particular monologue for me to drop all my exhilaration for the movie and instantly click the ‘exit’ button of the webpage. In the scene, a divorce lawyer was explaining to Johansson’s character why mothers are always expected to be of a higher standard in terms of parenting. The lawyer continued to point out that mothers were presumed to be that way because Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the gold standard for mothers. Mary, as the lawyer described, was perfect, a virgin, who did not falter in supporting Jesus growing up. Mary was present even till the very end when she was holding her son’s body. But the father, as the lawyer stated, was not present. “God is in heaven. God was the father and He did not show up,” said the lawyer.
I watched as I tried to grasp how a movie I so desired to watch, distortedly referenced the Bible. I was dismayed. At that point, I was done tolerating movie industries in allowing scripts to mock Christian beliefs and taking the Bible out of context. But my concern is its far-greater impact on the media consumption of today’s generation. How many other Hollywood acclaimed movies are there, misleading the public on the contents of the Bible. I am disquieted by the reality that people have insensibly tolerated such, countless times. And by watching, movie after movie, consumers gradually accept them as truths. Then worse, base their lifestyles off of these.
From this personal concern, I realized how tolerating such an underestimated practice is. It is often overlooked that our lifestyles are accumulations of the things we tolerate. Like how our mindsets are the result of the thoughts we let slip, our hobbies are tasks we allow to pass the time, and our judgments on others are assessments we permit to label them. I think that we might just tolerate too much of the little things.
Evil itself creeps into our very lives through the ‘harmless’ little thoughts and actions we take of little to no account. Irritation and bitterness we unconsciously hide, the impression that we always know better, and all the other lies that the devil whispers in our minds. We should be careful about what we tolerate. Including the gestures that no one dared to call us out. Pointing out people’s mistakes in public, inappropriate humor, low-key bullying, being late, and many others. Even as we sit comfortably while our eyes are locked on the screens of our phones, we passively tolerate the internet to dump endless and senseless contents into our minds. Secular music, faith-insulting movies, dance challenges — even reading the comment section on youtube videos is a pastime now! It’s crazy to think that we spend most of our precious time on such chaotic and unholy content.
Still, tolerating is not at all bad when we use our toleration card on silence, love, generosity, patience, and the like. Truly, there could be too many things in this world. Endless content, myriad of thoughts, countless irresponsible habits, etc. I guess that’s inevitable. But the game-changer here is the proficiency to identify which ones are worth allowing. And as Catholics, it is clear that Holiness should be our moral compass in whatever we tolerate in our lives. When we find ourselves plunging on the youtube app during our free time, what kind of videos do we watch? Let me rephrase that. What kind of videos do we choose to spend our time on and allow our minds to consume? Because if there is something that video content is taking from us, it’s the time in our lives and space in our minds. Will it lead you to Holiness? Will it not? The same goes for our thoughts, emotions, and actions. If there is something we should be absorbed in, it should be the things that will lead us to Holiness. And as we start to be sensitive to what we allow ourselves to tolerate, may we always be reminded of this verse from Philippians 4:8:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Kiana Gualberto is a Mission Volunteer of MFC Youth serving in the region of Visayas.