What do a movie, a town council meeting, a library board meeting and a church service have in common?
The only common denominator is the people in attendance.
It is, therefore, the people who decide exactly what occurred at the event, who said what, who did what, and who was on first, so to speak.
Unless, of course, they are sleeping!
Even then, they may dare venture a comment simply because they have not yet learned to abide by the old saying, “it is better to be silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”
Last Sunday my husband and I went to a movie.
It was my idea, of course, partly because I really like movies and partly because I thought it would be a good idea to get out of the house because of the smoking thing.
“You can’t smoke in a movie,” I told him breathing cheerfulness into the recently acquired smoke free air in his office.
“Okay,” he grumbled, no doubt missing his friend, the cigarette, already.
The movie was called The Book Thief. It had me at the title.
The first picture had barely rolled onto the screen when I mentally left my seat in the theatre and walked into the screen to be one with the characters as they lived and died in World War 11.
And as I munched my popcorn, I felt in my own heart the anguish of the young girl with wheat coloured braids who lost both her mother and her brother for reasons she couldn’t understand. And I felt a kinship with the boy whose blonde hair hung in a fringe over his mischievous eyes; the boy who loved the girl fiercely and loyally until a bomb exploded on his street cutting short his young life forever.
It was a moving story, and when I left the theatre, the movie went with me, in my head.
Days later I sat in my daughter’s cozy living room, sipping tea, while the dog, Marble, snoozed in front of the dancing flames in the fireplace. I was chatting about the movie with my 11-year-old granddaughter who had also seen it.
I told her I had trouble understanding the last scene, which I thought, showed the heroine looking in a shop window and seeing the young Jew she had befriended two years before smiling at her.
“No, grandma,” she said, flipping her slight little self to an upright position. “She was at the rich people’s house, doing laundry and that’s when she saw her friend.”
Later, I asked my husband what he saw when the last scene came on.
“She was looking at some pictures on her piano when she saw her friend,” he said.
There you go. Three different people. Three different versions of the truth.
Who is right?
I think back to town council meetings when the gallery is full of people. I certainly commend the people for darkening a door which some may consider off limits.
It isn’t, of course.
But, later when the people all gather round and the buzz gets louder, and emotion runs high, sometimes facts are merely annoyances that get in the way like pesky mosquitoes.
I think we all try very hard to get to the truth, even if it is hidden behind a layer of fog that even Windex can’t wipe away.
But one thing I do know for sure.
I need to see that movie again.
— On The Other Side