The past few days, I’ve been exploring the fundamental questions posed to us by the LOST television series. Monday I asked, “What about all the loose ends?” Tuesday I asked, “Why am I here?” Today I’ll ask, along with J.J. Abrams, “Can people really change?”
As the series unfolded season by season, you really started to wonder. The answer, by the end, was yes—but not just a qualified yes, a resounding one. Not only can people change, LOST shows us; we all can, and we all do. The question is, do we change for the better? Like with every story, there are real characters within LOST universe, and cardboard ones. The real ones change. All of them.
Jack moves from a man who puts no confidence in anyone but himself to a man who lets others lead and ultimately submits to the wisdom of “the island.”
Kate moves from a woman who runs from everything to a woman who faces her fate head on.
Sawyer moves from a con man to a family man.
Hugo moves from a neurotic self questioner to a leader, ultimately the leader.
Sayid moves from a murderer to a self-sacrificing saviour.
Jin moves from a driven man to a committed husband.
Sun moves from a liar to a truth-teller.
Charlie moves from an addict to a lover.
Desmond moves from a drifter to a man living out his destiny.
Locke moves from a paralytic to a visionary ahead of his time.
Even Ben, the villain of the entire series changes—from a machiavellian dictator to a thoughtful supporter.
Notice, though, what changes and what doesn’t. None of these folks achieve perfection. None of them lose their essential selves, either. If anything, they become the characters they were meant to be. Jack is still a great leader. Desmond is no longer a drifter, but our inability to nail him down makes him a formidable pariah to the Man In Black at the end. Kate never loses her fiery passion. Sayid keeps his courage, Hugo keeps his benevolent innocence. And Ben holds on to his formidable mind.
What changes, all told, is that each of the people we love, including Ben, are no longer crippled by their fatal flaw—no matter how deep that vein ran through their hearts. Their true nature is no longer stifled, or worse, used for evil.
That’s what Jacob said, didn’t he? The reason people were brought to the island was to help them change. And this is the promise of the gospel. The old will be replaced by the new. Evil bents will be eclipsed by godly desires. “We shall become like (Christ), for we shall see him as he is.” And, “For those he foreknew, he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his son.”
Notice too, that some people change early—Ecko, Locke, Desmond. Some, right in the nick of time—Sayid, for example, like the thief on the cross beside Jesus. But let’s reflect on people like Ecko and Locke for a minute. They died before we were ready to lose them. We missed them. And yet, their lives glisten with dignity in our memories. Why? Because they changed. They win because they were transformed.
Just remember that when we look at Locke, and Kate, and Ben, we’re now looking back on their entire lives. They’ve changed, past tense. Their stories are over, at least for us. Our stories, on the other hand, are underway. Some things about us may have already changed, some things are in progress. Chang-ing. I’m full of flaws, I know. I wonder, though, what my fatal flaw is, and whether or not God has touched it yet.
What I do know is, there is hope for all of us. For me.
In real life.
NEXT: Is dead really dead?