More than any other popular superhero, Batman has a psychological depth that far outweighs the humble source of his comic book origins. The Dark Knight must make moral choices every day that directly impact the lives of the citizens of Gotham City. Given his violent methodology against admittedly psychopathic adversaries, the Batman walks a fragile thin line between good and evil. Does the end justify the means?
What if YOU were forced to make a moral decision that would impact hundreds of other people? This is one of the more compelling scenes in The Dark Knight movie, as two ferry boats in Gotham Harbor are joining dozens of others in a mass evacuation because of the Joker's threat to destroy the city with anarchy. Unfortunately, the two boats are rigged with explosives and a trigger.
One boat is filled with average citizens: businessmen, young adults and teens, mothers with children. The other boat carries hardened convicts from Gotham State Prison. Each group must decide by midnight whether to blow up the other boat, or be blown up themselves by the Joker. Kill or be killed! How does one make such a decision?
I don't want to spoil the resolution for anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet, but the question posed is a good one.
Everyday, we're faced with moral decisions, large and small. Should I cheat on my history test? Should I fudge the numbers on my tax work for my own personal gain? Will anyone care or notice if I stuff a couple of candy bars from the store counter into by backpack? What's wrong with lying if it will spare the other person from having hurt feelings? A good friend wants to have an abortion. How should I advise her? And on and on.
Moral decision-making is a serious matter. Pop culture and peer pressure encourage us to take the easy and selfish way out. Moral decision-making involves free will — God's gift to us. Sure, it would be easier if we didn't have to make moral choices in life, if God or someone else could make them for us. But God loves us so much and has such confidence in us. God knows that we can learn to make the right decisions and will choose to do so.
The key to good moral choices is to have a good relationship with God. Pray, read scripture, study Church teachings, and share ideas and questions with trusted mentors. When the time comes, you will have what you need to make the right choice. Listen to Matt Maher's Isaiah 61 and pray that opening line sincerely: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because the Lord has anointed me."
Want to dig deeper on this topic? Here's an excellent essay on moral choices, written by a teenager: Free Will: Choice Creates Challenges
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