Sun Can Still Shine in the West

Manila Bulletin, January 26, 2007 | Go to article overview

Sun Can Still Shine in the West


Byline: Bernardo Villegas

IT was going to be a very long flight from Singapore to Barcelona. There was enough time for a good night's sleep as well as a movie. I chose the "Comedy" category and saw the title of a new release, an indie film called "Little Miss Sunshine." There was the usual Singapore Airlines' very helpful warning about offensive language, not sexually explicit scenes. I was in the mood for a comedy and I know that the leading actor, Greg Kinnear, can be really funny. I am glad I decided to watch it because it gave me some hope that the institution of the family can still be saved in Western societies where more than 50 percent of marriages end up in divorce.

I may not fully agree with Manila Bulletin movie critic Carloe Javier who waxed lyrical that it is "the smartest, freshest, and most heartwarming film to come around this year." But it does deliver the message that no human being is so bad that he or she does not have the spark of the divine still surviving amidst an immoral life. I was reminded of what St. Josemaria Escriva always affirmed - that he does not know of any evil person. The only evil is ignorance and it is the task of Christians to preach the truth that Christ brought when He was born, died and suffered for us.

"Little Miss Sunshine" is a story of a very dysfunctional family who discovered the meaning of altruistic love, of what Pope Benedict XVI called agape in his encyclical "God Is Love," when all the members moved heaven and earth to help their youngest member, Olive, participate in a talent contest for little girls. There was the granddad, a drug and sex addict. The teenage step brother has taken a vow of silence because he is not being permitted by his mother to become a pilot. He goes ballistic when he discovers that he is color-blind, making him inelligible to become a pilot. The uncle is a suicidal gay academic, who tried to kill himself when the man he loves fell in love with another man. The mother is a divorcee and the father is a frustrated author of a potential business best seller.

Despite their respective human weaknesses, the members of this dysfunctional family learned how to sacrifice their respective egotistic interests in order to help the little girl Olive to prepare for and participate in the "Little Miss Sunshine" talent show. They learned what God has ingrained in the heart of every human being - that to be happy on earth, one has to forget oneself and give himself to another. Seeking the good of another, even at the expense of one's welfare, is the only way to find true happiness.

At first glance, families seem to be disintegrating in the United States. There are fewer stable married couples and more births outside marriage in that country of 300 million souls. According to an article by Fr. John Flynn that appeared in Zenit International News, births out of wedlock reached 36.8 percent of the total in 2005, up by one percent compared with 2004. It seems that marriage as an institution is in decline.

Defenders of marriage should, however, not lose hope. According to Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, marriage is not in the minority. …

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