Dangerous Distractions: We Are All ‘Members of the Wedding’

Many – many! – years ago I watched a movie on TV entitled Member of the Wedding. Recently, upon reading the actual plot of that film, I realized most of it went over my young head like a tent. All that I understood was that a rural Southern family was planning a wedding and the plot was an account of the preparation for the event and the actions of those taking part in it. Of course, it involved a great deal more but as noted I was too young to comprehend the gist of the story! One thing I did notice was that throughout all the “goings on,” a young boy who seemed to be somewhat irrelevant to the plot was constantly complaining, “my head hurts.” Of course, this was presented in the story as meaningless especially given the response to his complaints by the others. I don’t even remember if any offered a kind word to him in his apparent discomfort. Most just assumed that he, as do many children, was seeking attention and at a very awkward and inconvenient time.

As for myself and, I assume, the audience as a whole, the matter seemed little more than a plot device on the periphery of the central theme designed to produce a sort of annoying distraction. Imagine my astonishment when, at almost the end of the movie I discovered that the boy had died of a brain tumor and it was this malignant condition that had created his suffering rather than a desire for attention! I certainly didn’t expect that!! And indeed, I still remember my astonishment and even shame for my own failure to have any empathy for the sufferer, film or no film. I had made a judgment based upon the most superficial of evidence while the characters, deep in their meaningless plans had by their failure to respond, allowed a distraction to become a tragedy!

I don’t remember much else about the film, but the sudden death of even a minor character whose only seeming function in the plot was to complain, made a deep impression on me, child that I was! My response at the time was normal – at least for a child – in that I wondered had the boy’s complaint been taken more seriously if something could have been done to prevent such an awful result! Of course, in reality, probably not, especially in those days! But even so, I reasoned that at least he would not have been ignored and alone in the few remaining weeks of his short life. It was for me, child that I was, a tragedy of considerable proportions! Yet even so, the wedding and those directly involved remained the central theme of the drama, with death taking a relatively inconsequential role in the story. But, again, reasoning as a child, I couldn’t imagine how death could be “inconsequential.”

Of course, in the story, the boy’s plight was used, as noted above, as a distraction, causing the audience to respond with shock when what had been a mere annoyance became something so much greater than the celebration theme that was, to me, the central element of the story. Distraction has always been a good strategy. Indeed, it is the “bread and butter” of stage magicians, the means by which they keep their audience concentrating on one thing while a sleight of hand is performed on the other. The playwright kept his audience’s attention on the wedding and its participants while quietly introducing quite another “story line” that in the end changed everything that went before. After all, whatever else happens, there is nothing so final as death! A person who was at least of some consequence in the story dies! Ends! Ceases to exist – and this is a complete surprise to both the characters and the audience! Whatever happens to those who remain, this tragic event cannot be changed – and we should learn something of life from this “stage maneuver.” For much is going on today that is crucial not just to our way of life or our quality of life but of life itself!

For instance, distracted by a faux “pandemic” and using fear as a weapon, literally billions of people have chosen to undergo what has become a great “culling” of humanity through so-called “vaccines” that have been in production far longer than the ”disease” they were supposedly created to “prevent!” Worse, we continue to be “jabbed” even after the people who created, dispensed and profited from these bio-weapons have admitted that they prevent nothing; cure nothing and don’t even stop the “spread” of any disease whatsoever! Yet, despite  images on the internet of people either dropping dead or flailing about helplessly after receiving these potions, people still rush to receive their first or second or fourth installment with the understanding that they might have to continue to do so forever – or at least for what’s left of their lives!

Meanwhile there have been other “distractions” that have resulted in riots and cultural upheaval, the end of honest elections in the United States and throughout the West and an open attack on Western Civilization and the race and faith that are its foundation – Caucasians and Christianity. Criminals are returned to the streets in the name of “social justice” where they continue to rape, rob and kill while the laws that once formed the basis of a culture are now dependent not on what has been done but who has (or has not) done it! When any government is no longer founded on laws that treat all men equally, then that government is a tyranny even for the individuals who benefit from its evils. Remember, as Thomas Jefferson once pointed out, a government that can give everything can also take everything!

As well regarding “distractions,” I also remember – as I remembered watching Member of the Wedding – seeing the first examples of “time-lapse” photography. I was amazed to watch flowers open in seconds, illustrating what might have been an hours long process! Today, amazing things can be done via technology including such marvels as revealing the future of the universe in mere minutes! On the other hand, when things follow the ordinary sequence of events, often very important matters are lost in the slow passage of the time necessary for them to occur. Oh, we can look back and see what happened, but we seem not to be able to take that understanding into the present and see what is happening right in front of us until, as in the case of the dead boy in the film, it is too late to do anything.

So, the question becomes, when it is too late? When does what is happening reach a “point of no return?” In the case of the child in the play, given his condition it probably would have been too late before he ever said that his head hurt. That was the nature of the malady with which the author with godlike power, afflicted his character. However, usually, historically, at some point in time, it might have been possible to stop, allay, restrain or otherwise prevent the eventual disaster from taking place; in other words, unlike the fate of the child, the consequences of many tragedies were not necessarily inevitable! Sometimes the needful act itself is rather small and seemingly insignificant as with a misplaced radio message giving the coordinates of a large iceberg that was received on the afternoon of April 14th by the Titanic – a message that never reached the bridge of that doomed vessel because the radio operators were overwhelmed by mindless and needless radio traffic from the Titanic’s wealthy passengers to the radio station at Cape Race.

Unfortunately, we cannot know the “whys” and “wherefores” of successful efforts that have prevented disasters because where these have occurred, the disaster itself never happened! On the other hand, we certainly can look back on past disasters – such as that of the Titanic! – and find that moment in time in which an act of nature or man might have changed everything had it come to pass. Interestingly enough, usually if the “missed” incident involved human action or, more to the point, a failure of human action, that failure – as in the case of the message received but not delivered! – was the result of a fatal distraction!

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