Until just before starting university I held anger for a certain member of my family. Throughout my life, this person and I had always been at odds and when I was around fifteen years old, I decided to cut this person loose. I did not speak to them again for nearly three years, much to the pain of my relatives.
In the April of 2015, the maiden season of Daredevil premiered on Netflix. Based on the Marvel Comics by Stan Lee and Bill Everett, it follows Matthew Murdoch (Charlie Cox), a blind lawyer by day and a costumed vigilante by night. With the theme of forgiveness running through season one, he is also a Catholic, whilst he beats bad people to within an inch of their lives!
Watching Matt in pits of Hell’s Kitchen showed me the darkness I held in my heart. You can forgive but never ever forget. The weight we hold as human beings is ear-splitting. In Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, the characters are burdened with abstract things, including grief and guilt. We are only as human as we allow ourselves to be. In the film Just Mercy, in its final moments, Michael B. Jordan’s Bryan Stevenson states “we all need grace, we all need mercy.” The film also states 1 in 9 death row inmates are wrongfully convicted, and 165 have been exonerated since 1973.
What if Bryan Stevenson hadn’t shown mercy or grace to those committed to death row? Despite being imprisoned, they are still human beings, as Fyodor Dostoyevsky puts it:
“A society should be judged not by how it treats its outstanding citizens but by how it treats its criminals. The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons. If he has a conscience he will suffer for his mistake. That will be his punishment-as well as the prison.”
How human beings hold on to things can be a mental block to stepping forward or progression. In Disney’s Lion King, Rafiki says “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But you can either run from it, or learn from it.” And that stone in our stomachs hurts more when we hold on to stuff – for example me avoiding a single person for three years, and your world can shrink exponentially. Living a life looking over your shoulder is mentally draining.
But once you forgive, new roads can open; and in that moment, there is no past or future, just you in the present moment and an open road to the rest of your life.
The only business we have with the past is how we can learn from it. And watching Daredevil all those years ago is in-part responsible for the mild-mannered human being I am now. Murdoch seeing it as his Catholic duty to protect Hell’s Kitchen from those who would see it harm, tied with his mentor Father Lantom (Peter McRobbie) make for an excellent partnership.
Episode one starts with Matt in a confession booth with Father Lantom, and their conversations appear every so often throughout this show’s three-season run. “Nothing shines up a halo faster than death Matthew. But funerals are for the living… and revising history… only dilutes the lessons we should learn from it” says Lantom, and this will always ring true, so long as we humans continues to disregard history and make the same mistakes.
At eighteen, when you think you know everything and you really know nothing, I found Daredevil. Its exploration of forgiveness, mercy and grace in the tint of political violence, corruption, immorality and populist media. Its maiden season showed me how to forgive because its protagonist had every reason not to. This theme of mercy followed with Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron First, as well The Punisher. All these characters loved and lost, and were betrayed, lives written in violence like mine had been.
And yet, these characters and this world saw looking with your eyes makes you blind, as there are other ways to see.