“There are only murderers in this room, Michael. Open your eyes. This is the life we chose. The life we lead. And there is only one guarantee–none of us will see heaven.” John Rooney
Sunday night, I saw the movie “the Road to Perdition” and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The film takes dueling father and son stories and turns them into a triangle. Paul Newman plays Tom Hank’s father figure, John Rooney. Newman’s actual son, played by Daniel Craig (who later played James Bond), is a liar and a cheat, stealing money from his father.
Tom Hanks’ son is a curious kid, Mike Jr., the only innocent character. The story starts when Mike Jr., witnesses his father killing for the mafia. Daniel Craig kills Tom Hanks’s wife and son, leaving the boy, and Hanks and son go on the run.
Hanks sees the good side of Rooney so willfully that he almost cannot see the bad. Unlike Rooney, Hanks doesn’t want his son in the business. The movie’s plot asks whether fathers can spare their sons from the costs of their sins. Hanks cannot understand why Rooney would protect his son Connor, who betrayed and stole from him, from his loyal employee who is “like a son.”
Hanks: They are protecting him now, but when you’re gone. They’re not going to need him anymore. This ends with Connor dead no matter what.
Rooney: That may be. But you are asking me to give you the keys to his room so you can walk in, put a gun to his head and pull the trigger. I can’t do that.
Hanks: He murdered Annie and Peter.
Rooney: There are only murderers in this room, Michael! Open your eyes. This is the life we chose. The life we lead. And there is only one guarantee–none of us will see heaven.
Hanks: Michael could
Roony: Then do everything that you can to see that happens. Leave.
After seeing “Road to Perdition,” I knew I admired it, but I didn’t know if I liked it, and I am still unsure, but I can’t stop thinking about it. Which, in my book, makes it a good movie. Rooney prefers family to good management, but Hank’s tragedy is because he has put it the other way around — placing Rooney above his family. The movie doesn’t give us an answer to this tragedy. Hanks lived and died by his code, but he is still dead, leaving his 12-year-old alone in the world. Was that right?
In Judaism, parents aren’t responsible for their children’s sins ( nor are children for their father’s sins). The book of Proverbs states, “Raise up a child in the way he ought to go; he will not swerve from it even in old age.” (22:6). In other words, child-rearing work isn’t about raising the best child ever, but about raising a child in the way, they ought to go, to be their own best self. A parent’s most important job is to help their children be themselves.
If you didn’t see the movie, you should. You can find it on Netflix. Let me know what you think. In the meantime, don’t let your child grow up without you. If you don’t have legal status, take the first step to change that today. Please don’t make the mistake Hanks did, leaving his son alone. If you don’t have legal status, the best thing you can do for your kids is make sure you will be there for them. You can’t do that if you are deported.
Andres “You are Not Alone” Mejer
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