Over the last couple week's I've been watching 13 Reasons Why on Netflix. It's a tragic tale of a high school student who takes her own life after a series of insensitive, and sometimes criminal, acts by those around her.
Anyone who has kids will most likely be saddened and disturbed by this drama. When I was a teenager I saw some pretty mean stuff, but nothing that compares to what the students at Liberty High inflict on one another.
Two of the themes that snake their way through the episodes are that of accountably and blame. "Was it your behavior that pushed her over the edge?"
"I don't think so. Others did far worse things."
"Did you help her when presented the opportunity?"
"Well, maybe not."
The issues presented in 13 Reasons Why crystalize my most difficult moral dilemma: Is it good enough just not to be at fault?
At this moment, I'm not talking about global issues. I can barely get my head around the interactions that I encounter in my daily life, both personal and professional.
Most of the problems experienced by those around me are not of my doing. Yet, some of them end up at my doorstep. And I've decided, as often as I have the energy to do so, that regardless if I'm the cause or not, I'm involved. And I should try to help.
13 Reasons Why is good filmmaking. I can recommend it based on technique alone. After all, we focus on photography and storytelling here, right?
But those reasons would only be partial truths. What I really want to say is that we need to pay closer attention to one another and try to imagine what the other person is experiencing. And when we can, expend some energy on them even when it's not our problem.
You see, I've finally realized that technical skill alone will never make me a great artist, or even a good friend. There's more to it than that. There always has been.