The year 2004 brought us an extraordinary film written and directed by Paul Haggis. Crash won three Academy Awards, Best Picture one of them. The film deals with every shade of the complex human experience of race in America. It is on my mind as I have watched the news out of Ferguson, a microcosm of our experience. The film calls me as a white person to see the truth straight on, ask the hard questions and work toward conversion. It calls every race to do that by holding a mirror to the consequences if we continue to ignore our inner work. I showed this film to seniors in a Social Justice Class and we had profound dialogue. It shook them to the core. Two scenes contain the seed of the whole film.
The first scene, “Pat Down by the Police” will ask you to be brave. It is not for the faint of heart, containing violent language and action. Officer John Ryan (Matt Dillon) stops a car taking Hollywood director Cameron Thayer (Terrence Howard) and his wife Christine (Thandie Newton) home after an awards event. Its truth is stark and powerful.
The second scene, “Car Fire,” turns the previous scene upside down and we are forced to examine the meaning of forgiveness in an unforgivable injustice.
I invite us to gather in living rooms as adults and older teens to view this film for the first time or again. Open a discussion of how it relates to Ferguson and how we each carry the seeds of Ferguson buried deep or edging to the surface. Spirituality is to be born in acts of justice. We must not hoard it for self-gazing.