A few months ago, I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which, incidentally, should have been called The Curiously Long Case of Benjamin Button. And though the film rambled, there was a line early on that struck me.
Benjamin, a baby born elderly, is abandoned on the steps of a bustling retirement home. Queenie, a compassionate and iron-willed African-American who works there, discovers the bundle. As she pulls back the blanket and sees the aged and withered newborn, she recoils. But curiosity gets the better of her. Leaning down for a closer look, something changes within her. Unable to conceive a child herself, she smiles at Benjamin as a mother would and says, rather bluntly, “You’re as ugly as an old pot, but you’re still a child of God.”
Simple, yet profound.
That statement stayed with me for days and resonated even more loudly after Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers University student, threw himself off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly filmed him kissing another man and broadcast the event over the Internet. The fact that Clementi was gay is immaterial: He was still a child of God—a member of our human family. I wonder still if he knew that himself.
I try to keep that phrase at hand in life. And it isn’t always easy.
Slow drivers on the road, telemarketers calling at dinnertime—or ever, surly bank tellers: They are still a child of God. And when I’m the aggressor and tap-dancing on the nerves of everyone around me, yep, it’s true: I’m still a child of God, flaws and all.
It was a passing line from a film I didn’t even care for. But the sentiment of that phrase—powerful in its simplicity—is something that could change the world.
Photo: graur razvan ionut