Open your eyes at The Blind Side

Posted on November 23, 2009

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(*no spoilers*)
This past weekend, I went to see The Blind Side starring Sandra Bullock and Tim MaGraw. This true story follows a 17 year old foster child and gentle giant, Michael Oher, as he struggles to transition from life on the streets to a loving home (and a new future). You can read a full criticism on my movie review site, BabbleOn 5. This post will of course focus on creative leadership.

The basic premise of this movie is not anything revolutionary; poor black athletic kid meets rich, well-meaning family. Achievement and tender moments ensue. The rest of the movie is the clashing of two world views and the emergence of a new one for the principle characters. This movie is about changing ‘world view’. World view shapes everything. Your decisions, direction, and future is all shaped not by truth or reality but more by your own subjective perspective. As much as we attempt to be impartial or objective, our limited world view still is the primary grid by which we understand our surroundings. So the question is, if we know our world view is broken, how do we change it? How do you adjust your social-economical, homogeneous, religious, and family world views to form a brand new one?   

We’ll focus on Sandra Bullocks character of Leigh Ann Touhy. Touhy is a brash, Memphis southern belle that knows what she wants and wants what she knows. Her carefully crafted and successful world has little room for the behemoth enigma of Michael Oher. She understands little of his world and assumes a lot of Oher and his needs. However, her openness to challenge her own world view (and the view of her community) creates the opportunity for change and progress. 

  • Needs: The first step is to meet tangible needs. Food, shelter, clothing is a critical need in our world. Whether you are helping an individual or an entire community, meeting physical needs is the first step to changing world view. Systemic issues must come second to safety and a healthy environment.
  • Risk: You cannot change your world view without risk. It might mean bringing a stranger into your home, using up resources, or going into rough environments. Risk is the litmus test of our convictions. How willing are you to be uncomfortable for the sake of others. How willing are you to risk your own safety for the safety of others?
  • Relational investment: This is the ‘heavy lifting’ of changing world view. The engagement of another story is the biggest catalyst for broadening perspective and initiating change. regardless of intelligence or education, the most ‘closed off’ people I know, usually lack exposure to other’s story.
  • Advocacy: In most situation, justice is the only way to cause sustainable change. Advocacy means working proficiently within ‘the system’ and ‘out of the system’ if needed. You have to be a politican and sometimes a rogue. You must master the art AND science of being an advocate.
  • Identification: The only way a new world view emerges is the joining and forming of a new tribe. There has to be a mutual rejection of the past and the embracing of a new identity. There is a decision to say; ‘his rights and my rights are the same’. Or ‘what you do to him is what you do to me’. The rights and dignity of one is imputed on the other. In fact, the title comes from the idea that as a family, you cover each other’s ‘blind side’.  A new world view means the beginning of a new family.

Below is a picture of the real Touhy family

There was a key conversation in the movie between Bullock and her ‘desperate housewife’ friends. When one says “what you are doing is so kind, you are changing that boy’s life…” She responds by says “no, he is changing mine..” That is the change of world view.

I hope you go see The Blind Side. Besides challenging our world view, it’s a great movie to watch with your family and friends during this holiday season. It is sure to spark some interesting conversation for those with limited world views. It also is an encouraging movie for those with dreams of adopting or fostering (which my family does but that’s another blog post). Thanks for reading.

You can read the full review at BabbleOn 5.

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