The Lessons We Can Learn from Glee!

(Warning: Spoilers for Season 1 below)

I’ve mentioned this show in my blog a number of times in the past. I keep coming back to it for the simple reason that I will always think it is one of the most uniquely innovative shows that defines our generation.

As every episode of the show is unveiled for public consumption, it just continues to keep giving me more reasons to love it.

Their interpretations of seemingly ordinary songs makes for a full and constantly played and replayed playlist on my iTunes. As an ensemble, they sound terrific. Lea Michelle’s voice is awesomely strong, powerful and evocative. Even without video accompaniment, hearing her sing about her loves, joys and heartaches makes me feel the exact same things she feels.

Their story lines are contemporary and genuine. Teenage pregnancy, discrimination, broken families and the dynamics between high school kids with the classic mean cheerleader girls, popular jocks and the misfits take me back to my own high school days and remind me of the same pain and angst every high school kid must go through to build character.

But perhaps what really differentiates this show from any other high school flick is how almost every episode of Glee! can make you feel like you’ve actually learned something from the show. In my mid-thirties, I actually sometimes feel that this show makes me stronger and gives me perspective on my own life.

I haven’t started with Season 2, though I’ve seen and heard a lot of spoilers. One of the season’s episodes tackles mortality, faith and religion. If you think about it, the youth today are growing up with a much less firm grip on spiritual fundamentals. Many today question the existence of a God (in whatever name or form He is referred to) who rules over us all. Many prefer to believe that there is no God, and that our mortal life on earth is the only life there is.

But the show reminds us that in the grip of a mortal life filled with grief, pain, hardship and disappointments, we can’t go on believing that this is all there is to it. At the end of it all, there is something bigger than all of us that has a promise of bringing back balance and giving us consolation for all that we go through.

In Season 1, one of my favorite episodes tackles the issue of teen pregnancies in America. It paints a realistic picture of what happens to teen relationships today and how they regard and behave towards sex.

These days, sex among teens is as commonplace as breathing air. A girl can have multiple sex partners, and can have casual sex without a second’s thought. You lose your virginity at a relatively older age, you’re seen as a prude.

It’s so different from how sex was with my generation. We were all mortally afraid of teenage pregnancy. So we either staunchly waited until (at least) College, or better yet after school altogether; or took great precautions to be extremely cautious. The few who eluded good sense of caution, ran out on luck and got knocked up… were frowned upon and shunned, cast out as “loose” and lacking in morals.

In Glee, Quinn was cast out of her home; cast out of cheerleading and frowned upon by her former friends.

So maybe yes, sex is commonplace, but good sense to elude caution is still frowned upon.

Quinn’s consolation comes in the form of a bunch of campus misfits who’ve found a home and solace in each other. They remind us that really, regardless of what comes to us in life, we can get by with a little help from loving and supporting friends who will be there no matter what.

As a general rule, I like happy movies. I like shows that paint a picture perfect life, or shows that have a happily ever after. In my thirties, I’ve stopped wanting to see shows that paint a too-accurate portrayal of real life and all the pains that come along with it. My life is complicated enough, and too real enough — that when I sit back and relax to watch a show, I want to be transported to another world for a brief moment in time, in revel in stories that give me a tiny lift in my heart.

I think perhaps, Glee is my exception… in a paradoxical way.

On one hand, it’s happy-happy, feel good, lalalala singing all the way. Almost every episode ends on a high note.

On the other hand, it’s not too far from what has become real life today.

A gay couple raising a daughter, broken families, single parent households, teen pregnancies, performance-enhancing drugs, racial and status discrimination… what happens out there in real life, name it – it’s all somehow inside Glee.

But just like life, I think what makes this show so special is the feeling of hope it leaves behind. Behind every struggle is a group of zany, crazy, insane obsessive-compulsive weirdos who’ll never abandon you to the wolves.

In simple terms, shit happens. But at least you don’t have to deal with your shit alone.

Day 46. Watching my Father Die, Religion and Pop Culture

While watching an episode of NCIS last night featuring a woman who witnessed a murder happening next door, I suddenly started having flashbacks of watching my father die.

On a separate occasion months before he passed away, I also remember one particular episode of Criminal Minds where Penelope Garcia rushes to the aid of an assaulted man, and holds him in her arms as he dies. She says something, “One minute he was alive, the next he was just… not.

While watching dad die, that line did pop up in my head for a brief moment in time. I recall his nurse also telling me then “look, he’s taking his last breath.” I don’t know how she knew that, maybe it comes from years of experience.

I didn’t feel as morose about that thought back then. But the flashbacks I had last night were alarming.

Yes, Penelope said it right. One minute he was alive and breathing, the next he was just… not alive anymore.

Literally watching life leave a human body is profound.

In Harry Potter, JK Rowling creates a distinction between people who have seen death as it happens, and those who have not.

Harry Potter: What are they?
Luna Lovegood: They’re called Thestrals. They’re quite gentle, really… But people avoid them because they’re a bit…
Harry Potter: Different. But why can’t the others see them?
Luna Lovegood: They can only be seen by people who’ve seen death.

Watching dad die raises a plethora of new questions about mortality and life after death.

With a Roman Catholic upbringing, surrounded by nuns and Jesuit priests in my most formative years, not believing in heaven and hell is unlikely to happen. I’ve always had faith that these “places” actually exist.

As an adult, I’ve created a slight redefinition of who goes to heaven, and who goes to hell.

While the stiff and unrelenting Catholic Church strictly espouse all their traditional, conventional and outdated rules and regulations supposedly set by a very harsh, judgmental God; I believe my God is a loving and merciful God.

Blame the Jesuits, if I believe that when you’ve already exhausted all you can to make an honest and clean living, that stealing from rich people to feed your starving family is forgivable and does not merit a soul going to hell.

On this premise, then I always knew in my heart my God will welcome my father into heaven.

I believed that… until he actually passed away. Seeing the frailty of mortal human life, watching life leave his body, watching him take his final breath, it made me ask questions.

Where is he going?

Is he going anywhere at all?

If there’s no heaven and hell, then did he just truly, unequivocally cease to exist?

And if heaven and hell do exist, did my father just go to heaven?

What if he was sent to hell?

And in heaven, does he remember his life? The ones he left behind?

Does he “watch over us” as everyone keeps saying?

If he is “just around me and in me”, how come I can’t feel his presence anywhere?

Why does it feel like he really is completely gone, and I can’t even feel his spirit anymore?

What really happens when a person dies?

I guess I’ll never know.

It’s been a month and a half since dad’s death. The intensity of the emotions has gone, and in its place is some kind of calm and resigned acceptance.

Yup, life has gone on.

My mom and younger brother (who lived with my dad) are rediscovering a new kind of “normal”. Especially for mom, the time that passes doesn’t come without pain and the feeling of loss, but thank God for this invention called “work”, time passes more quickly and the mind is not left idle.

In the midst of all unanswered questions about what happens when we all die, and where my dad now is, I suppose I’ll just take comfort in a song that’s brought me comfort for many years now since I heard it the first time.

Jars of Clay wrote this song for a good friend of theirs who had already passed away from HIV. Before his death, he confided his fears about dying and what happens to him after.

In death as in life, we always pray that we won’t go through the journey alone. And this is the balm my heart needs to reassure me that in his death, my father is not alone.

Be still let your hand melt into mine.
The part of me that breathes when you breathe is losing time.
I can’t find the word to say I’ll never say goodbye.

I’ll fly with you through the night so
you know I’m not letting go.
I’m not letting go.
My tears like rain fill up the sky.
Oh my love I’m not letting go, I won’t let you go.

I saw the host of silent angels waiting on their own.
Knowing that all the promises of faith
come alive when you see home.
Hold still and let your hand melt into mine.

And I’ll fly with you through the night
so you know I’m not letting go.
I’m not letting go.
My tears like rain fill up the sky.
Oh my love I’m not letting go, I won’t let you go.

Shed your heart and your breath and your pain and fly.

Now you’re alive.
I’ll fly with you through the night so
you know I’m not letting go.
I’m not letting go.
Tears like rain fill up the sky.
Oh my love I’m not letting go, I won’t let you go.
I’m not letting go, I won’t let you go.

The Things that Make Us Laugh

It’s been awhile.

With all the events and drama surrounding my life in the last few months, I’m thankful for the few things that continue to make me look forward to returning to the land of the living, and enjoying a daily existence filled with joy and laughter.

While things will never go back to how “normal” used to be, there are a few things that continue to take me to a temporary world of laughter and joy — enough to make me realize that in life, there is always hope.

This post is an homage to the things that make me laugh out loud and take my mind off all my worries… and an homage to the creators of these wonderful shows who bring entertainment and lightness into many homes.

1. Pscyh

Created by Steve Franks, appearing on the USA Network. It’s a criminal investigative show with a different twist – for at the core of the show are 2 friends who are the “Head Psychics” of the Santa Barbara Police Department. Light, funny, witty and laugh out loud. Close to (but not exactly) slapstick — the screenplay is brilliant.

Watch as these 2 childhood friends “work” with the stiff, upper-lip type Head Detective (Lassiter) and the hot detective chick (O’Hara) to solve crimes that take place in Santa Barbara – and see how detective work takes a different spin from the eyes of an ultra-observant guy posed as a “psychic”.

This “psychic”‘s dad is also  kinda funny, by the way.

When you watch an episode, wait til the end credits for the “Psych Out Moments” that are the perfect punctuation to an hour of silly but worth-it entertainment.

2. Big Bang Theory

Four geeks, a hot chick and awesomely geeky dialog — and four seasons later, you still can’t get enough. I would say that this show truly made geeks cool – for the first time ever. Suddenly, dressing up as the doppler effect and attending Renaissance Fairs in full medieval gear isn’t a loser’s style anymore — but a cool geek’s mark.

Knowing who Spock is; memorizing all the thousands of comic book titles and editions; and having a weekly routine of dinner fare is actually kinda fun.

And the beauty and the geek isn’t a far cry from reality anymore – cause truly, the nice geeks get the hot chick. Well, sometimes.

3. How I Met Your Mother

A love story in reverse; a playboy chauvinist who created the “Bro Code”; a truly lovable couple named Marshall and Lily; a Canadian teen pop star turned news anchorwoman; and a pitifully romantic idealist searching for his one and only “true love” — these are just some of the things that make this show what it is. Charming, endearing and almost addictive.

Lighthearted comedy that also strikes a chord in the heart of a romantic and hopeful – that really, no matter how bad things may get, there’s something great at the end of the road.

4. Glee!

Well, duh… after all my raves about this show, it cannot not have its own number on this list.

Hate her all you want, but I will always loooove Rachel. Aside from an amazing voice, she’s the one who makes this show different from all the other shows about teenagers that have the usual slew of mean cheerleaders, dumb arrogant jocks and loser geeks. Without Rachel (and okay, to be fair, all the other stereotypes that the show has broken – like the head cheerleader getting knocked up; the football team captain being dumped gallons of slushies…you get the drift), this show could have had all the possible markings of just another TV show about angsty teenagers who are obsessed with sex. Oh, and they sing and dance.

High School Musical, this ain’t.

Aside from the ear-friendly music that the show has generated… the fun, evocative and truly youthful dialogue… this is one show I always count on to take me away from real life blues to give me a couple of minutes of fun and pure enjoyment.

5. 30 Rock

Liz Lemon, Jack Donaghy and Tracy Jordan make me laugh til my sides ache. Maybe because in some weird way, the show’s premise is a little close to what I do on a day to day basis.

Meeting deadlines everyday for scripts, print ads, television storyboards… battling it out with producers (or in our case, clients)… dealing with difficult diva talents and celebrities… and all the ins and outs and dynamics of people who work together and in close proximity every single day.

They say that laughter is always the best medicine, and I would tend to agree. And I would thank the geniuses behind shows such as these above for giving normal, everyday people like us reasons to remember that life is just life… with ups and downs… and through every down, there’s an up just waiting to happen.

So never lose hope, whoever you are.

If you’re feeling down in the dumps, sad, depressed, helpless, in pain or simply tired — pop in 30 minutes or an hour of fun and laughter to temporarily take away those blues. And these shows up here – they’re my reco. If you have your own list, then by all means, pop that in and laugh away!

Top Five. The Fictional TV Characters I Wish were Real

I’m starting a new thing in this blog which I’m calling “Top Five”. Just for kicks.

My first “Top Five” pays homage to the brilliant minds who created characters on Television today whom if these people had been real, they would certainly and surely make the world… well, not necessarily a better place, but surely a more interesting one. Good or bad, these characters make Bart Simpson seem like just another regular Joe.

1. Jack Bauer. You can’t not know Jack Bauer. He’s the lead character in the TV series 24. An ex-CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) agent, eventually became a CTU Director, then a free agent, then a wanted fugitive, and eventually a private citizen who simply wanted to live his life in peace. But we know better. As long as Jack Bauer roams the streets of the planet Earth, Jack Bauer can never rest in peace.

The world needs people like him. The guy you can count on to always do the right thing regardless of the cost to himself. He has literally died (twice!) for his country; been tagged as a hardcore enemy of the state; sacrificed his wife, daughter and friends for the sake of the country. He has saved the world from countless terrorist attacks, saved the lives of millions. If a Jack Bauer really existed in this lifetime, maybe terrorists would think thrice about striking.

2. Michael Westen. The lead character of Burn Notice, a show about the life of an ex-agent who gets burned, leaving him with no prior work history, no money; in essence, no identity. He suddenly wakes up after a humongous explosion while on a mission in Nigeria, in Miami, Florida, attended to by an ex-girlfriend, and an old friend who tells on his activities to the US government. The entire series is all about Michael investigating why he was burned and by whom; and trying to find ways to restore his identity and recover his assets. But in the meantime, he accepts odd jobs helping people who can’t help themselves, and who can’t ask help from official channels. Victims of scams and cons; targets of gangsters and mobs; people who were basically taken advantage of, ripped off and abused.

His methods, like Jack Bauer, are often questionable. But he does what needs to be done, and his heart is in the right place. You’ll never catch this guy crossing over to the wrong side of the fence. He will always champion the side of the good, albeit the side of good can sometimes be riddled with shades of grey. And he’s street smart too. ‘Course he is, he was one of the US’ best field agents before he was burned. A modern day but low-key MacGyver who’s loyal to the core.

3. Dr. Sheldon Cooper turns 20 minutes of each Big Bang Theory episode into 20 minutes of utter hilarity and uproarious belly-aching laughter. The young know-it-all genius Physicist who has absolutely no concept of emotional intelligence makes Geekdom seem like the coolest thing to be. He puts pompom-donning cheerleaders and prom queens to shame. Admittedly, he is a bit arrogant…. (okay, ‘a bit’ is an outright lie), has no concept of what it means to be a good friend, is probably asexual, and is emotionally constipated.

But he’s absolutely funny and adorable! He can probably change our perception of sub-atomic particles, black holes  and whatever other things that rock the world of Physics (leaving about 99.99% of the world’ population in complete obscurity about such discoveries), but he surely wouldn’t be the best housemate to anyone. But he can sure make us all laugh. And with a character as oblivious and clueless as that, he’d make for a highly entertaining companion, as long as you’re not in dire need of a morale boost.

4. Mademoiselle Blair Waldorf from the Upper East Side. ‘Queen B’, as she was fondly called up until Season 2 of Gossip Girl. Absolutely spoiled, insane and sometimes bordering on having a blackened soul… but gorgeous, trendy, funny and sweet, in her own bitter-sour way. Most people I know who love Gossip Girl, love Blair Waldorf more than her other Upper East Side female buds. She’s often a hardcore bitch with a capital ‘B’. But when she loves someone, she loves them to death.

Do not ever make the mistake of crossing the Queen of the hive, she can guarantee you’ll be out of friend, acquaintances, a home, a hometown… she can even send an entire city running after you…. if it doesn’t get to Gossip Girl first. If Blair were real, I’d give my entire month’s salary to make sure I’m on her good side. The best part… while I may not have the heart nor the guts for sweet satisfying revenge on those who wrong me, Queen B certainly does…

5. Walter Bishop is the genius of Fringe. A bit weird, yes. That’s what genius does to many.

And maybe if Walter Bishop were real, the fabric between our world and the parallel world would tear and other versions of ourselves would be crossing over, wreaking havoc on the world as we know it. And maybe buildings with thousands of people in them would start crossing over and pushing aside our buildings on this side. And maybe we’d have children test subjects who would be exhibiting extraordinary abilities when they reach adulthood so they can defeat evil. Would that be such a bad thing?

But okay, scientific genius aside, we love Walter Bishop cause he’s lovable, adorable and a generally good father to Peter. He may have technically stolen his son from the other side… but he’s certainly making up for it in his older age.

Who’s on your top five?

TV Shows: Renewed or Cancelled?

In the US, the latest seasons of our favorite TV shows have just finished. Which means that for us folks down here in the Americanized third world archipelago called the Philippines, there’s a strange separation anxiety and a tinge of sadness giving up the usual prime time cable fanfare habit catching up on our favorite characters on television.

I don’t catch the shows on TV though. I wait for the DVDs or the legitimately downloaded shows from friends and acquaintances.Which doesn’t mean that TV show season endings don’t affect us just as much. If any, it hits us worse off. See, we normally wait for the entire season to finish, then watch the season for a few days straight. And then as soon as that’s done, it means another one year hiatus from our TV friends.

In this rough-and-tumble world, these shows have been with me and hubby through thick and thin; bringing us joy and temporary respite from the madness called real life.

And sadly, it’s that time of the year when TV lovers like us wonder – which shows get renewed, which ones get cut? Which friends live to continue keeping our minds occupied for several more hours again? And which ones do we bid adieu to?

Here’s just an unconfirmed rundown of the status of these shows we’ve come to love:

Stays! 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Castle, Chuck, Criminal Minds, CSI (all of them), Family Guy, Fringe, Glee, Gossip Girl, House, How I Met Your Mother, Human Target, Lie to Me, Mentalist, NCIS (both of them), Private Practice, Royal Pains, Smallville (!)

Goes: 24 (buh-bye Jack Bauer! *sniff*), Dollhouse, Flash Forward, Heroes

—–

I have a few thoughts about some of the shows that were axed.

We haven’t started watching this latest season of 24, but I’m actually a little bit glad about this  being the last we see of Jack Bauer (on television at least). I love the show to bits, and I love Jack Bauer to bits — but I seriously think it’s time for Jack to retire. The scenarios portrayed in the last few seasons were sometimes already bordering on being ludicrous. If we were talking about invincible superheroes like Superman, plots upon plots where Superman gets this close to certain death and still manages to escape unscathed could already be considered unbelievable… what more a mere mortal like Jack? I know he’s Jack Bauer… but seriously, Jack Bauer puts the Titan Gods to shame. And for that reason alone, I really think it’s time Jack really retires.

If he were a real person (and I’ve written about my profound admiration of the man in a previous post), I’d liken his life to a Greek tragedy. And then I’d say that this man deserves to finally die and be at peace. 10 seasons to relive Jack Bauer again and again until I’m old and frail is good enough for me.

—–

I also wrote about Dollhouse in a previous entry. Wrote about how much I loved it, while singing the praises of one of the greatest directors in our lifetime, Joss Whedon. Of course when I wrote that post way back in 2009, I already had an inkling it wouldn’t last.

And why not? The show is not about a damsel (seemingly in distress) falling in love with a blood-sucking vampire.  Ironic how I talk about humans and vampires considering the creator of Dollhouse was the first director to even conceptualize a TV show featuring human-vampire relations through Buffy and Angel. And then Twilight, Vampire Diaries and True Blood comes into the picture. All copy cats, if you ask me. Joss Whedon is and will always be the true genius of cult flicks.

Which brings me to say that Dollhouse being axed is a sad disappointment. Granted that the premise of the show may be a bit too out-of-this-world and as un-mainstream as it can be… but isn’t that what true entertainment is all about? When I plant myself on our living room couch in front of the television set with a bowl of chips, I want to be swept away into another reality where anything is possible. That’s what Dollhouse has always done for me. I guess that’s that.

—–

Now, Flash Forward. Within the first five minutes of the pilot episode, I was taken in. Three episodes later, I was hooked. But after about ten, twelve episodes… it just sorta fizzled. (Much like how Heroes took us all in at the beginning. Season 1 was terrific. Season 2 was so-so. Season 3 was a mess. Season 4 was a waste of time and money.)

Too too bad. It had an excellent plot. In fact, it made me ask one too many existential questions. What would you do if you could know without a doubt what the future held for you? Would you change your future without even knowing the full context of the few seconds’ glimpse of the future? Would you sacrifice yourself to save the future of a virtual stranger? What would you do if you knew you were to die in the very near future?

It started out on the right foot. Excellent casting (I love Joseph Fiennes!). But it just abruptly went downhill midseason. I haven’t even finished the first season and don’t even feel a tinge of enthusiasm to finish it. What a pity.

A Parallel Life

I love Science Fiction.

So it’s no surprise that I love J.J. Abrams’ latest TV series “Fringe”. I’m particularly loving the second season. A recurring theme throughout this season so far (I’m only on episode 5 so far) is the idea of parallel universes.

What if, somewhere out there, there are parallel realities? The same cast of characters, the same earth, the same city we live in?

And in those realities are different versions of you. Same DNA, same physical characteristics, same mannerisms, same psychological makeup. Everything identical down to every strand of hair.

Everything the same — except an altered history. What if in those different universes are different versions of ourselves that represent the different paths and choices we made?

Pragmatic, practical, non-fatalistic people know that our lives are what we make of it. The people we eventually turn out to become is a result of the millions of choices we make on a daily basis. From  the biggest life-altering decisions we make that irrevocably change our lives…. to those decisions we make that seem so irrelevant and minute in the greater scheme of things. The simple choices like – Do I take the bus today, or take a cab? Do I wear black or brown today? — without realizing that it’s the little details that also lead up to a million other things.

Now… although “Fringe” doesn’t tackle the phenomenon through a philosophical discourse such as my post does now (of course the show must remain focused on its main plot), it does make one think of the possibilities, doesn’t it?

If there truly were parallel realities out there that represent the different choices we did not make in this lifetime, what would those lifelines look like? It’s not far from the quintessential, pervasive question we always ask ourselves at some point in our lives — the perennial “what if?

What if, for instance, I chose not to leave my parents’ home immediately after College? Then I would be a school teacher. I would be spending all my nights at home tending to my little brother; rather than exploring the world and meeting new people. Then I never would have met the set of good friends I have in my life now. Then I never would have met my husband. Then too I never would have discovered that I could make it in the world on my own. Then too wouldn’t I have realized that I was actually not a dumb kid who used to always just barely pass in school. That I could look my weaknesses and fears in life and start conquering them one by one.

The life I live now, the person I am today – is because of one decision that changed my life forever.

On the other hand, if I had chosen that other path, maybe I would be a little bit less stressed. I would probably have met and married a more established man. I probably wouldn’t be as focused on my career as I am now. I probably would have kids by now. I probably wouldn’t be a breadwinner for my family either.

Who knows? What’s sure though is that if there is a version of me out there who represents the choices I didn’t make, I’d like to meet that person just to find out what would’ve become of me if I had taken the other road.

And somewhere out there are a thousand other versions of me representing thousands of other choices I didn’t make. Maybe in another parallel galaxy, is someone who’s chosen almost the same path I’ve chosen except for a few minor alterations.

In some way, on bad days like today, it also brings small comfort to consider the possibility that there may be another version of me out there who may have it a little bit easier… less stressed… less problematic… less anxious about the future…

Just think about the possibilities for second. What if there were hundreds of other versions of you somewhere out there?

And if you could cross over to that other dimension and give up all that you are now… would you actually do it?

Lessons from the Anti-Heroes

We can always learn a thing or two about dealing with injustice and grief from today’s fictional anti-hero heroes and icons. (indulge me for a while in this post as I talk about fictional characters as though they were real).

I wager many fans of thriller and suspense flicks actually love Hannibal Lecter as much as they love Clarice Sterling. I know I do. After all, he does what we all just wish we could do but dismiss as even a remote possibility owing to our long-held beliefs of right and wrong. When karma takes too long to get back at those who did wrong to you, it’s almost tempting to contemplate revenge and vindication.

But that was one of the very few things my mum has carefully instilled in me since I was a young girl. Never exact revenge, and never will nor want for anything bad to happen to anyone, even to those who have wronged you. The world has a way of righting the wrong, but just let it be… and don’t cause for any of it to happen.

And so I just take vicarious pleasure watching and contemplating Hannibal Lecter’s life principles. Not that it makes his methods right, nor does it make him any less of a madman, nor is what he does right in any way. But you gotta admit. He  does what we all just wish we could do in a less extreme way. Hurt the ones who hurt other people. Lecter generally takes good care of the people whom he has dubbed as “people who are worthy of being a part of the human race”. He lets people like Clarice Sterling live. He offs the opera singer who cheats on his spouse; tortures and terrorizes the ambitious, dishonest journalist who gives little regard for what is morally right… effectively, he is just ridding the world of morally ambiguous people.

I have a handful of friends and acquaintances who classify as “don’t ever mess with me or you’re dead meat“. They’ve gotten justice at people who’ve wronged them in ways I can never even imagine doing (and yet, it’s nowhere even remotely close to Hannibal, okay?). On the one hand, I cringe at the thought of willfully causing hurt or pain to someone else…. even if it is only to seek justice (not even revenge). Even if repercussions on the recipient of justice are mostly emotional scars.

On the other, part of me admires their tenacity and will to get the justice they feel they deserve.

Where do you draw the line?

Every decision and action we make, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has corresponding actions and reactions. It’s not so far from making a decision everyday on how we behave towards humanity.

My husband gave me an interesting insight last night. As we were watching a documentary on History Channel about the Legacy of Star Wars, he told me to pick up lessons from Anakin Skywalker’s journey to the dark side. It began with just one incident: his mother’s death. Not only did it awaken his lust for revenge and power, but it brought out the strongest emotion that led him down the path to the destruction of his humanity: fear.

And so it begs the question of what to do when people have wronged you. It’s so easy to seek vindication and justice but sometimes, you wonder. At what cost does it come? Whose feathers do you ruffle? How many individual’s lives will you alter? Whose spirit will you crush?

Perhaps those are the same questions that plague Jack Bauer. (Jack Bauer, the perpetual martyr in the TV show 24)

I used to joke that next to God and the others powers-that-be in the Universe, Jack Bauer is the next rockin’ hero.

He takes bullet after bullet of crap to save his country. Several nuclear bombs, suicide bombers, biological warfares and homicidal terrorists later, Jack Bauer still keeps coming back to save the day. At what cost? His life, his wife, his daughter and all the other things that matter in his life.

Never one to seek revenge or vindication for himself. Always does the right thing. Always takes the fall even when he should be the last person to take it. Seeks to protect others before himself. Decides always for the greater good even if it’s at the expense of his own life.

Does a person like that truly exist? If there is, I’d like to meet this person and take him away from his awful reality, give him a taste of the good life for a change.

Like many fans of Jack Bauer, I draw comfort from the possibility that a Jack Bauer exists in this lifetime. A character like him restores my faith in humanity (although watching his enemies affirms the cynicism that the human race is often in a state of total, utter disgrace) and reminds me that there are people who will go beyond the call of duty to do the right thing.

The whole point of this discourse? Nothing much. Maybe except for the fact that life will always be unpredictable and we will always wonder why things happen to us that we feel we don’t deserve. And maybe we really don’t, who’s to say?

Perhaps if there’s anything you can take out from pop culture’s icons today, it’s this: we can never ever lose the part of us that’s good, that’s kind and decent. That’s what it means to be human. Every single day, we cannot lose our humanity. Every word we say, every thought we think of, every action we do irrevocably shapes the person we will become someday.