I believe in the God of Les Miserables, an operatic device used to push Jean Valjean away from living as a thief and re-creating himself as a man dedicated to giving back to others less fortunate than himself.

I believe in the Jesus of South Park, a cartoon character whose popularity is subordinated to Mister Hanky, a singing and dancing piece of poo.

I believe in the signatures at the bottom of the Declaration Of Independence, undeniable evidence, there specifically to keep future generations from being duped into believing the parchment was scribbled upon by the hand of a divine messenger.

It’s been a season of stories: Django, Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Flight, Les Miserables. This is where I go to seek forgiveness, a dark room filled with sticky floors and people munching on popcorn.

There have been two rooms where I gave over to sobbing: the movie theater where I saw Les Miserables and the synagogue where I stood on the back wall, listening, as they laid Aaron Swartz to rest.

I understand the meaning beneath Les Miserables, “To Love Another Person Is To See The Face Of God.” But I’m lost when I try to wrap my head around why the FBI and district attorney Carmen Ortiz pushed and pushed until an endlessly creative young man saw his only way out as a noose.

I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.

Smart men are driven around in bulletproof Popemobiles, like Benedict Ratzinger. Smart men give Ted Talks on “schools killing creativity,” like Sir Ken Robinson. Smart men defer to edgy boys in edgy hats at The Grammys, like Jay-Z.


There comes a point where your potential no longer applies. There comes a point where you are what you are. There comes a point where your dreams don’t matter. There comes a point where taking classes and seeking outside advice and attaching meaning to things that don’t mean anything at all is the exact same thing as getting bangs.

It’s an acknowledgement you’re halfway done. Doesn’t mean you stop reaching. Doesn’t mean you give-up. Doesn’t mean you stop taking classes and seeking outside advice. It means you stop putting yourself in the center of everything, which is why a title as gloomy as “Les Miserables” brings hope to the weary heart.

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