Abuse of Power

Abuse of Power

In mid 2014 I watched the film, “Calvary“, which is a compelling exploration of relationships, loss, pain, and abuse of power. It’s one of those films that left the audience silent as we left the cinema, and also one that my thoughts returned to repeatedly over the next few days.

This is a film with many story paths.

  • One is of a man who was abused by a Catholic Priest from the age of seven and who can no longer go on as he has, and the drastic action that he takes so that society will listen to him and take action.
  • Another is a personal story of a husband and wife who won’t part but who live their lives separately and destructively.
  • A father and adult daughter who have never really reconnected after the long drawn out death of their respective wife and mother, and how they struggle to find a new path.
  • This is a also a story of a small town that is dying in post GFC Ireland – the anger at the banks and government is very obvious.

But the most powerful story is that of the loss of faith in the Catholic Church by the people in the town, including one of the Priests. The loss of power of the Catholic Church in Ireland has been dramatic in recent decades. The sexual and physical abuse scandals there have been just some of the issues that have been uncovered and has led to massive changes in Irish society.

Some of these issues are also being uncovered in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia. This is changing the way that many of us now see the Churches and others that have been implicated. It is hard to have faith that those with power will always exercise it well.

The film “Calvary” has left me again wondering what am I doing now, or letting happen now, that I will live to regret. What abuses of power just seem acceptable, but are in fact indefensible? Am I prepared to be uncomfortable in the pursuit of justice? Am I listening to the voices of those who are marginalised, unheard and with little power to wield? How do we build institutions that are non-violent in a time when we are confronted by practices such as offshore processing of refugees?

Here is a trailer of the film – It’s worth seeing if you get the chance.