Idol Chatter

Watching this season of ’24’ continue to unfold, I’m moved to continue the debate I’ve been having with fellow Idol Chatterer Donna Freitas on the show and its hero, Jack Bauer. (Read my original posting here, and her response here.)

This year’s storyline is based on Jack’s having begun a new life as a humble day worker, complete with a girlfriend and her adolescent son. In last year’s finale, we saw a hero who was willing to risk his life and career—and sacrifice his identity—to save the President, and eventually, millions of people in the path of a nuclear bomb. Now, he seems more than content to have left the daily do-or-die decisions of CTU (the Counter-Terrorism Unit he worked for) behind him and engage in a more normative lifestyle. It took the deaths of several of his friends and the assassination of the former President to bring him out of hiding, and it took a false accusation of multiple murders to to re-engage him in the kind of antics that make the show what it is.

While the plot twists and internet guessing games about what will happen to his character continue, I hope the conversations among spiritual journeyers will move to the more compelling questions the show asks:

1. What, really, do we believe is worth fighting for?
2. What, really, do we believe is worth dying for?
3. What, really, am I personally responsible for?

At a time when American soldiers are risking their lives every day and what passes for Intelligence is at the center of several national debates, this is a show that brings to light the complicated questions about what it takes to protect a nation, more so than any show I can remember since the end of “Three Days of the Condor.”

With all respect to Donna, I don’t believe that the character of Jack Bauer is a “martyr in the making” so much as he’s a fanatic about the responsibility he’s taken on, a trait that more of us could and should incorporate into our spiritual journeys and lives. The “human side of heroism” has included, for Jack, the loss of family and friends and a reluctant re-entrance into the hidden world of terrorists and spys. Each of us who aims to be spiritual should take inventory of the responsibilities placed in our path and consider our own levels of commitment and willingness to sacrifice, and examine how our courage can make the world a better place.

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