I have just finished watching Steven Spielberg’s 2001 movie Artificial Intelligence. David, the robotic boy in the film, was designed for a couple who was losing their real-life son Martin to a disease. Centuries pass during the life of the robot. Though the film was interesting, it was the very end of it that made an impression upon me.
Through DNA cloning, Monica, the robo-boy David’s mother, is brought back to life from a few strands of her hair. Monica and David have one perfect day together just the two of them, totally devoted to pleasing each other. David had developed a desire to be a real boy. Foundationally, the reason he wanted this was so that Monica would love him. In this sense, he had become a real boy. For what normal boy does not want his mother to love him. To simplify the ending, the Monica was given only one last day and then she would fall asleep forever. Though the robot would keep going for many more years, his job of pleasing her was finished. He also chooses to enter a form of sleep. He became “real” when he wanted to please her and be loved in return. In that regard, when he had finished that task, he was also finished. She was gone and his reason for living was gone as well.
I have known people who lived to satisfy only themselves. Mostly, they finished life alone, unfulfilled, and without anyone to love them. There have been movies about this too. Howard Hughes, who didn’t seem to care for anyone but himself, though one of the richest men in the world, died alone. For the essence of life is not in living to get what pleases us. The thing that matters is what we do to delight others; in return, most of them respond with love and gratitude.
Insanity, in its most elemental form, is complete selfishness and lack of concern for others. It manifests as a scheming adult mind trapped with the desires of an infant; crying out for what it wants without regard for the impact of his or her demands on others. We tolerate the infant because we trust that one day he or she will grow out of this stage and become mature.
Pure love, beyond human love, Jesus-level love does not expect anything in return. Almost all of life’s disappointments come from making loving kindness into a transaction. We will always be disappointed that way. The other disappointments come, almost universally, from bitterness that things we have done for ourselves do not satisfy. We are rarely disappointed for having done a lousy job of giving to another human.
Bringing happiness to others is why God created us with Him as the chief other to be so pleased. One of His greatest delights is that when we give joy to each other, He sees that we are doing what He made us for. We are fulfilling His plan. Though things may seem to make us happy, when we have bought them, or done them, or planned them primarily for our own pleasure, it does not please God. Jesus did not say first love God, then love yourself. He said love God then love others. Like David the robot, we are never more real than when we desire to help others and take the action steps to make it happen.
by Bob Bekins June, 2016