Recently my wife and I watched The Butler. Great movie in my opinion. I think we, as in all races, can learn a lot from that film.
In the movie we see two lives juxtaposed.
Cecil is a former slave. Through both unfortunate as well as fortunate events, he finds himself serving as a butler in the White House. Then we see his son, Louis. In his post high school and most of his young adult life, Louis is immersed in the civil rights movement in the south.
Throughout the movie you see the struggles both face.
Cecil has to deal with inequality in the workplace and being treated as “less than” as he works tireless hours to maintain his privileged position. His ability to endure such subservient conditions has afforded him a beautiful home in a middle class suburb. He is also able to send his son off to college.
However, his long hours away from home leaves his wife alone and bitter. The result is her turning to alcohol and an affair in an effort to cope.
Louis on the other hand is on the frontlines. He has to deal with racially segregated schools and other establishments. He takes part in anti-segregation rally’s and rides the “Freedom Bus” to fight injustice and racial inequality.
As a result he is arrested, beaten and jailed countless times.
Cecil represents people who are willing to work hard and play it safe in order to make it in life. These people work for status or comfort. They live good lives, make only the necessary sacrifices and take care of business.
Louis represents people who work hard and endure pain to make a way for others in life. These people work to bring about a certain change. They live tough lives, make countless sacrifices with the hope of changing the world.
You’ve been given 365 days in a year, 7 days in a week and 24-hours in a day. You can play it safe or be radical. Both may lead to a life well-lived. However, only you will have to live with your choice.
Are you a Freedom Rider or a Butler?
Here’s a question for you: Have you seen the Butler? Who do you identify most with, Cecil or Louis?