The Help: Thoughts and Questions

by Jacob Juncker

My favorite scene in The Help, aside from Hilly eating Minny’s “chocolate” pie, is the scene where the preacher states (this is a paraphrase) that “courage isn’t just about being brave. Courage is daring to do what is right in spite of our weaknesses.  And God tells us, commands us, compels us to love.” The bravest thing we may ever do is love.

God compels us to love one another just as Christ has loved us (cf. John 13:34)..  We are to love our brothers and sisters.  We are called to love friends and enemies.  Love is the true mark of discipleship.  It is our complete, even unto death, love for one another that tells the world whose we are: disciples of Jesus Christ (cf. John 13:35).

Nevertheless, we often get it wrong.  Hatred and violence continue to exist, even within the church.

In what ways does the church exemplify Jesus’ command to love?  In what ways should the church exemplify Jesus’ command to love?

Every year, Bishop Woodie W. White writes a letter to Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) on January 17th (MLK’s birthday).  In his 2011 letter to MLK, Bishop White writes:

…so much has been accomplished in such a relatively short period.   It is a changing America, a changed America.

Yet, Martin, there is a persistent core [of] racism in American life that refuses to go away. In fact, over the past few months, there has been a resurgence of racist rhetoric and activity.  I thought I might be simply overreacting, but friends and colleagues across the country share their own observations and stories as well.

Perhaps it is inevitable. Almost daily, television and radio talk-show hosts spew their racial hate and stir fears.  It is as though they are afraid of racial harmony and a more racially and ethnically inclusive America. Sadly, throughout our nation’s history we have witnessed the exploitation of racial, ethnic and religious differences.

Martin, what seems most troubling is the silence from the voices of good will…

There are several parts of The Help that make me incredibly uncomfortable.  And, the reason, I think it makes me so uncomfortable is that I  have often been silent.  I have refused to speak up upon witnessing a racist, sexist, homophobic or other hate-filled joke or action.  And, in my silence, I’ve been complicit instead of speaking up and finding my voice to stand up for what is right.  The challenge for us in this movie is to, like Skeeter, find our voice so that we can face the hatred around us.

What will it take for you to find your voice?  How long will you be silent?

What do you (and I) need to do to cultivate a community marked by love and equality?