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What Makes Us Right? – The Sean Penn Revolution #atozchallenge

*Language Alert: This post contains some explicit language. If you are among the faint at heart or sensitive to certain words, consider this advance notice.



“If I yell a little louder than you, does that make me right?” asks a U.S. diplomat named Joseph Wilson in the biography thriller “Fair Game” starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn. This line occurs in the scene where Joseph’s (played by Penn) wife Valerie Plame (played by Watts) urges him to stop doing television appearances and talking to the press about war and government cover-ups. Their argument puts them at war with each other after White House officials leaked Valerie’s identity as a CIA operative, following Joseph’s editorial questioning the validity of the government’s claims of finding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Valerie is pissed that Joseph has the audacity to battle with the White House -- an entity that has power to wreak havoc on their already tumultuous lives; he wants her to realize that there are bigger things at stake if they sit back and do nothing about the lies being spread by their government. Putting the subject matter of “Fair Game” aside, I am especially fond of this movie line because it applies to any situation and is food for thought when something just doesn’t seem – well, right.

It serves as a reminder that you do an injustice to yourself, your fellow man and future generations of people if you don’t stand up to entities that abuse their liberties just because they are in a position that allows this to happen. Our legal system from family court to criminal matters and so on is one of the best examples of how the truth gets bent, twisted around – or even fabricated to meet the needs of somebody’s (whether that be the prosecutors, police, judge, jury, those who testify or any other position related to a case) agenda. The justice system, however, is just the tip of the iceberg; there is foul play going on in our boardrooms, in our child welfare “protection” agencies, in our healthcare system, in our educational systems and in our backyards.

Families even fight each other over who gets entitled to what when a loved one dies, who gets to claim whom on income tax returns and who makes the decisions about medical care for relative who are incapacitated. I personally know of two instances where relatives started engaging in funny business over real estate and related assets.

From large corporations and government entities to communities with neighbors at war with each other over dogs urinating on someone else's front lawn or toddlers trampling a garden, people make up what they want to justify their planned course of action – whatever that may be. 

To me, Sean Penn’s (or Joseph Wilson – however you want to name him) question is about two things:

  • Being right in the authenticity of information that you are either sending out or receiving.
  • Being right about how you handle (or behave in the circumstance of) someone challenging said information.

Question everything, because even the most credible sources can be wrong. That means even if claims or information comes to you from your very best friend, your mother or father, the pope, Elton John, Beyoncé, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, PETA, Matt Lauer and even The White House etc. -- do not take everything that you read or hear or see, at face value. Also, don’t be afraid to call people on their bullshit if for at any minute, you suspect that there is some funny business going on.

Those in more prominent positions are no more (or no less) truthful than the little man. This is not only reflected in “Fair Game;” We saw it in “Gasland” and “Erin Brockovich” where the everyday Joe stood up to greed, health dangers and environmental pollution.

We saw it in “The General’s Daughter” and “A Few Good Men” where, though tragic, military officials with tormented pasts or dwindling reputations still managed to bring down the corruption of high ranking officers involved in murder, rape and intimidation tactics. We also saw it in “I am Sam” where a mentally disabled man and his ruthless lawyer challenge their state’s attempts to relinquish a father’s custody rights. Yes, arguments can be made against the premise of the latter example, but, I would request that you entertain the gist of the idea for the sake of this post.

When was the last time YOU stood up to something (or someone) that you believed wasn’t Right?

What are some indications that let YOU know you’re receiving the right information or treatment or service, etc.?

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