Lion – Movie Discussion
I cannot tell you when I have been so utterly wrecked by a movie. In a good way. Lion is the (true) story of a 5 year old boy, Saroo, who gets separated from his family and wakes up on a train 1600 miles from home in a town that doesn’t even speak his language. You see the horrors of what can happen to kids on the streets, but thankfully, he is one of the lucky ones and is adopted by a loving family. His life is good, but he can’t shake the feeling that, no matter how at home he is in his new life, he is still lost. It takes about 25 years, but eventually, he resumes the search for his birth family…and finds them.
The movie is powerful. There was not a dry eye… in fact, I think we were all doing all we could to not give in to the ugly cry—those heaving, wrecking sobs—when he was reunited with his mother. It was emotionally powerful, but there are plenty of powerful thoughts and ideas in the movie, as well. Here are fourteen…the last is my favorite.
- As he was lost in the train station crying out for his mother, swarms of people passed by and ignored him. I found myself wondering, Why does no one stop to help a child in need? And then I found myself wondering, would I? Would I have even seen the need? How many people in that crowd saw a need and ignored it, vs. how many ever saw it at all?
- The first person to offer kindness and help to him turns out to be evil, intending to sell Saroo to a sex trafficker. Fortunately, he sensed something wrong and fled, but I kept asking myself, Why is it the only kindness shown to him was by evil? Such a hard truth, that sometimes evil is more aware of the weak and vulnerable because it’s a predator, than those who would really be willing to help. Wolves come dressed in sheep’s clothing.
- How does a 5 year old child live alone for 2 months? Not only how does he survive that long, but how is it that in two whole months, no one came along to help?
- At one point, he found some other street children trying to survive in the train station. They were kind to each other, trying to help each other. But then, the police came and rounded them up and forced them out. We don’t see what happens after that, but what we do see is the violence of the police response. There was no kindness, no appearance of concern for the children. It just seemed that they were dealing with an ugly problem rather than children in need. Why is it that we are more concerned with the inconvenience and ugliness (to ourselves) of poverty and homelessness, than we are with the people who are poor and homeless?
- There is a scene were priests are walking by and you can see Saroo’s hopefulness that maybe they can help. They completely ignore him. My first thought was confusion and shame that those representing Christ weren’t compassionate towards the need. Then, however, you see that they are part of a funeral procession. It may not be that they didn’t care, or intentionally ignored Saroo but that they were consumed with their job and/or with grief. Sometimes our assumptions are short-sighted and we misunderstand people’s actions. And then again, Sometimes people are blinded by grief and/or responsibilities and clueless to the needs around them. And yet again, Sometimes people hide behind things like work so that they don’t have to get their hands dirty. Maybe, in this case, all three were partially true. Regardless, I have to wonder, if Jesus had been one of those priests, would he have continued on with His job, or would He have told the mourners to let the dead bury the dead, there was a child in need?
- Sue adopted two kids, Saroo and Mantoj. Saroo was delightful, Mantoj was a constant challenge. I really appreciated the balanced view of adoption—it’s not all roses. Sometimes it’s just really, really hard. As Saroo said, “You weren’t just adopting us, but our pasts as well”. This is the reality of adoption. It’s also a reality that love (at least an adoptive parent’s love) isn’t always enough (that’s not to say Christ’s love isn’t). They didn’t use the term, but I’m quite certain Mantoj had Reactive Attachment Disorder which is very common with adopted kids. If you are curious to learn more about RAD, or are considering adoption, I strongly encourage you to watch Forfeiting Sanity (brief description below - also, you can see a preview and/or watch the first 10 minutes of it free online – just google “Forfeiting Sanity”) and/or reach out to Carrie O’Toole at www.carrieotoole.com – she’s a wonderful, Godly and very transparent woman with a passion for helping people deal with RAD in their families. Not to dissuade anyone from adoption, but to prepare you.
- Again with the assumptions. Saroo assumed that Sue adopted him because she couldn’t have her own kids, but that wasn’t the case. Sue could have had kids, but chose to adopt. She felt that having kids didn’t necessarily make the world a better place, but giving a home and a family to two children who didn’t have that—that would make the world a better place. Here’s the interesting thing, God had a son. He doesn’t adopt us because He can’t have his own kids. He wants to adopt us as His sons because He loves us and because it will make the world a better place. He doesn’t adopt because of HIS need, but because of ours. This is really the only good reason to adopt. Adoption is not about what a child will do for you, but what you can do for a child.
- Perspective is everything. Saroo hated his adopted brother, Mantoj, because he saw how much pain he caused their parents, especially his sweet mother. Sue, however, said, “I’ve been blessed. Very blessed.” She had a perspective of blessing because her expectation was that she would love (give love to) her boys, unconditionally. Their response did not determine her blessing. Her blessing was in the giving of love. If our joy is in giving love, then we will always have reason for joy. If, however, our joy is in receiving love, our joy will always be at the mercy of others.
- Saroo saw a critical difference between himself and Mantoj—and I don’t think it was only in how they responded to life. Rather, how they responded to life was a result of this key difference. Saroo knew he was loved. He may have lost his family, but he knew that he was loved by them. He was lost, not abandoned or discarded. Mantoj, however, had no such security in love. His birth family had abandoned him and that was a wound that never healed, no matter how much a new family wanted him. When we know we are loved, we can accept love and give love in any area of our lives. If we are unsure that we are loved in one area (especially by our birth family)—it pretty much cripples our ability to give and receive love in any other area of our lives.
- Lack of closure can be all-consuming. Saroo was consumed with finding his family. Not only did he need to answer his own questions, but he realized that his mother and brother would be forever wounded by their own lack of closure. He was haunted by the thought of their lack of closure. “Do you know what it’s like knowing every day my real mother and brother wonder where I am [and are looking for me]? Some people say there’s nothing worse than losing a child (i.e. in death) but I think most people who have a lost/missing child and suffered through not knowing what has happened to them would say death would have been a mercy.
- Saroo was worried that if Sue knew he was looking for his birth family, it would kill her. He was afraid she would feel he was ungrateful or that he would abandon her if he found his birth mom. The truth, however, was that she was able to rejoice with him when he found her. She had enough love in her heart for his mother, too. She loved him enough to want the answers that would bring him peace and joy. The thing that hurt her, however, was his withdrawal, his secrets, his abandonment as he searched for his family in secrecy and shame. We underestimate people’s strength (and sometimes their desire for our good).
- When Saroo told people where he was from, they said it didn’t exist. This was obviously very confusing. Was he crazy? Did he imagine it? The thing is, when he found it, he realized that all these years he’d been saying it wrong. He’d also been saying his name wrong. Apparently, he had a bit of a speech impediment. Just because no one knows what you’re saying, or believes you, doesn’t mean you are crazy or wrong. Sometimes you’re just not expressing yourself correctly.
- 25 years. It took 25 years for him to be reunited with his family. The village thought his mom was crazy for believing he was still alive. People thought he was crazy to keep searching. The thing is, there is no moratorium on hope. God is bigger than our time or our problems.
- THIS is what impacted me the most about the movie: Saroo had a great home and a loving family. He was successful. Everything was good, and yet, he was still lost. I don’t mean he simply felt lost, though he did. I mean, he was at a part with people who knew he’d been adopted from Calcutta, but when he saw something that reminded him of his brother, he was undone by it. He told them, “I’m not from Calcutta…. I’m lost.” It was an identity for him. No matter how found he was, he was still lost. Why? Because no amount of changes to his external situation could change the deep longing of his soul, could change the fact that he had been disconnected from his family…that he was lost. The same is true for us. We were made for a relationship with God, our Heavenly Father. And no matter how great our earthly lives may be, there is a part of us that will never be satisfied, a part of our identity that will never be right, a part of us that will always feel lost, until we are reunited with Him.
Note: In India alone, over 80,000 children go missing each year and there are over 11 million children living on the streets. Astounding. There are great organizations working to change this, one was even created for the release of the movie (Lion Heart), but the one I am most familiar with and highly recommend is Gospel for Asia (GFA). We may not be in the train station while a little boy cries for help, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something to help. If you want to do something, I encourage you to at least explore GFA as an option. Also, I highly encourage you to read their books, No Longer a Slumdog, and Revolution in World Missions, both of which you can get for free at their website, http://www.gfa.org/, just click on the “free resources” tab.
 Forfeiting Sanity is the story of three families who adopted children using the same adoption agency, through the same Vietnamese orphanage, in the same room. All three children came to live in Colorado. Describing very similar struggles with Reactive Attachment Disorder, and behavior stemming from their children’s traumatic early years. The three families share their difficult, decade-long journeys through parenting, and the horrendous struggle about what to do to help their children heal, while holding their families together.