SPOILER ALERT! This blog is about Big Hero 6. Which I saw. There are SPOILERS! If you have not seen Big Hero 6 and don’t want to know plot points stop reading now. Did I mention the SPOILERS?
This week I’d like to look at the idea of satisfaction. As I discussed last week, Baymax’s was unable to deactivate until his patient was satisfied with the care that Baymax had provided. The problem began to arise when the needs of his patient, Hiro, began to shift. At first, Hiro simply needed help to process his grief. Baymax works to increase Hiro’s oxytocin levels by connecting him to friends. After Hiro’s levels have returned to an acceptable level, Baymax asks if Hiro is satisfied. However, Hiro’s need has shifted from the need for a caregiver to the need for a partner to help him find the man who orchestrated the death of his brother. As the story progressed, even that changed. Hiro’s need for Baymax became personal. He didn’t want Baymax around for the robot’s skills, but because they were friends. By the end, the only way Baymax could save Hiro was for Hiro to admit satisfaction and let Baymax go. Hiro’s satisfaction with his care, and the relationship that had grown from it was the only thing that could save him. The question becomes, how do we deal with shifting expectations of satisfaction and what it means?
It seems like the mission work of the church is never done. No matter how much hands-on work we do there is always something else waiting for our time and resources. When do we know that we’re finished? How do we know if we have satisfied the person in need? Are we supposed to? In the face of overwhelming need it feels impossible for us to make an attempt to change even one person’s life in the long term. We cannot be meant to devote all of our time and effort to helping others, even though the Bible says quite clearly that we are.
So if we are to take seriously the Gospel requirements to care for others what might that looks like? One of our jobs as Christians is to feed the hungry, but what does that mean? Does it mean we hand a hungry person a granola bar? Does it mean we volunteer at a food bank or soup kitchen? Does it mean we lobby our elected officials to protect school lunches and food stamps? Does it mean we work to eliminate the underlying causes of food scarcity, poverty, and homelessness. The answer is yes to all.
Is a hungry person satisfied with a granola bar? Yes, but only briefly. That kind of satisfaction is shortlived. S/he will be hungry again. Like Hiro, those we help have shifting needs. The basics are first, but they are not the end. The only way to truly provide satisfaction in a long term way is to eliminate the underlying causes of the problem. Simply put, it is better to cure a disease than to merely treat it. When we have brought the person to a place where s/he can say they are completely satisfied with their care and no longer need us, then we can say we have fulfilled our obligation.
To be continued…