Doing the Right Thing - What the movies "Concussion", "Spotlight" and "Spanglish" have to teach us.

Watching movies is one of my favorite hobbies, recently I have been able to watch them more frequently by combining this hobby with a no less important but decisively less enjoyable activity for me, exercise.   So all in all I would say the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Last month I had the pleasure of watching three movies (yes not new releases but I catch them when I can) Concussion, Spotlight and Spanglish.   These movies in their own way reinforced a powerful take home message.  Doing the right thing is hard and sometimes can come at great personal cost but is absolutely necessary.

In Concussion, Dr. Bennet Omalu, brilliantly portrayed by Will Smith (one of my favorite actors) discovered the condition, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and at great personal risk exposed it.   It allows us to realize that our football players keep America entertained at potentially great peril to themselves; it allows parents to make informed decisions before allowing their children in the sport and at least as importantly it allows our athletes to be personally informed of the risk they are taking.  Certain careers and life choices are dangerous, the tragedy was that the players, before the discovery, did not know the risk; they only experienced the consequences with often tragic results.  This discovery also shed some well-needed light on the tragic fall and suicide of Aaron Hernandez who was just recently discovered to have had an advanced form of this condition. Dr. Bennet Omalu continues to shed light on the condition and fortunately for him, while the stress of the situation may have cost him and his wife their first baby, they are now the proud parents of two beautiful children.  He also appears to have a successful career in California.

In Spotlight, intrepid reporters from the Boston Globe put their careers on the line to expose the terrible scandal of childhood sexual abuse that had been consuming the Catholic Church for years.  The result, it allowed hundreds if not thousands of victims to finally be heard and led to a public apology from the Church and hopefully, a stronger Catholic Church, which will never again allow perpetrators to go unchecked. And those courageous reporters live with the proud honor of having made a real difference in the world and perhaps a life changing difference in the lives of many of the victims.

In the fictitious Spanglish it was a relatively simple decision by the character Flor played the actress, Paz Vega. Her decision was to walk away from the temptation of having a relationship with her boss’s husband played by one of my favorite comedic actors, Adam Sandler. Some might contend that she should have or he should have, having just discovered that his wife had an affair but it reminded us that two wrongs never make a right.  There is never a good excuse for doing the wrong thing and no matter how small it may seem we should always strive to do the right thing. Flor’s reward was that she raised a bright confident woman who was invited to attend one of the most prestigious schools in the United States.

So what should we do?  In life, I believe we are at a moment now, more than ever before, where we have multiple opportunities to do the right thing.  I encourage us all to act in any small or for some of us big ways to embrace these opportunities despite the risks because the sad reality is although our life may not depend on it, someone else’s might.