I recently read a post by Karl Keating at Catholic Answers about a movie called “The Third Man.”
In the movie Orson Welles plays a character called Harry Lime. Harry was in trouble with the law in post-war Vienna because he had sold watered-down penicillin that had caused the deaths of many, including children.
To escape authorities Lime fakes his death in a staged traffic accident.
In the meantime, Lime’s lifelong friend Holly Martins arrives in Vienna a few days later just in time for Lime’s “funeral.”
As the movie unfolds, Holly discovers that too many things don’t add up about his friend Lime’s traffic accident fatality, and eventually he discovers Lime’s deception.
Near the end of the movie Martins and Lime finally meet and board a car on a giant Ferris Wheel so that they can talk privately. When the car they are riding in gets near the top Martins informs his friend Lime that he has told the police that Lime’s death was faked.
Lime then opens the door of the car they are riding in, looks down at all the people walking around below in the streets of Vienna, and says, “Look down there. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money? Or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spend? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax. It’s the only way to save money nowadays.”
Orson Welles plays this short scene so brilliantly I watched it over and over just to let it sink in how evil the character Lime was. You can watch the scene here:
In his post about this scene, Keating says, “It’s one of the most chilling scenes in film. The chill comes not only from Lime’s callous disregard of anonymous people whose lives are worth, by his calculus, a few years’ wages each. The chill comes also from the realization that each of us, watching the film, begins his own mental calculation—and then catches himself, saying, “What in the world am I doing? How can I even think of something like that?” There is a bit of Harry Lime in each of us.”
I think that last line is unfortunately true. “There is a bit of Harry Lime in each of us.”
Let me give you an example.
Last week, I posted on the topic “Who do people say that I am?” and the image I used for the post was a pregnant woman holding an ultrasound picture of her baby in front of her.
Now I believe with all my heart that the woman and her baby are created in God’s image and deserve the right to life among many other rights.
But I don’t know them personally.
So let me show you a picture that does have more personal meaning to me.
Why? Because this is the ultrasound picture of one of my own sons. I look at it and I don’t see just an ultrasound picture of an unborn baby.
I see my son as he currently is, a 15 year old boy growing into a young man. I see everything that I love about him.
But I know that it is him in that ultrasound picture. It’s very real for me, not abstract.
I look at the picture and say, “That’s Sean.”
But for most people who see this picture, using Harry Lime’s words, he’s a “dot.”
In other words, for most people they don’t know his name.
For many of those who are pro-choice, they might call him a “fetus.”
Harry Lime’s words remind us that we must fight against all efforts that seek to dehumanize unborn children in any way.
We must remember that even is we ourselves don’t know the name of that child, the child does have a name in God’s mind.
As the Lord said to Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” Jeremiah 1:5
Latest posts by Brett Attebery (see all)
- The Top 5 Reasons Why Women Choose to Abort Their Babies - February 23, 2017
- That “Dot” Has a Name - September 23, 2015
- Who Do People Say that I Am? - September 14, 2015
- Saving More Babies’ Lives from Abortion - August 31, 2015