In an obscure night
Fevered with love’s anxiety
(O hapless, happy plight!)
I went, none seeing me
Forth from my house, where all things quiet be
These are the words of St. John of the Cross’s poem titled “The Dark Night.” The poem describes the unknowability of God and the necessity to take a step into faith. In contemporary storytelling the term has taken on the meaning of being the darkest descent a character must take in their journey before being fully redeemed.
It’s the place where a person’s true character is tested against the full harshness of reality in its horrors. We see shades of this as Luke Skywalker duels his father and when Frodo crosses the barren fields of Mordor. It’s the place where truth is revealed in full, and we’re laid bare for who we are.
In a recent audio interview with The Independent that was released on February 4th to promote his upcoming film Cold Pursuit, Liam Neeson openly discussed a horrifying incident in his past as a young man in which he conceived to commit a racist murder as retribution for a friend’s rape.
“I’ll tell you a story, this is true.
“I’m not going to use any names, but I was away, and I came back. And she told me she had been raped.
“But she handled the situation of the rape in the most extraordinary way.
“But my immediate reaction was…
“I asked, did she know who it was? No.
“What colour were they? She said it was a black person.
“I’ve gone up and down areas with a cosh hoping I’d be approached by somebody.
“I’m ashamed to say that. And I did it for maybe a week, hoping some black b*****d would come out of a pub and have a go at me about something, y’know?
“So that I could… kill him.
“It took me a week, maybe a week and a half, to go through that.
“And she says to me, ‘Where are you going?’, and I say, ‘I’m just going out for a walk, y’know?’
“She says, ‘What’s wrong?’ … ‘Nothing’s wrong, I’m fine’.
“It was horrible, horrible, when I think back, but I did that. And I’ve never admitted that. And I’m saying it to a journalist. God forbid.
“It’s awful. But I did learn a lesson from it.
“When I eventually thought, ‘What the f**k are you doing?’ Y’know?
“And I come from a society – I grew up in Northern Ireland in the Troubles – and that, y’know, I, I knew a couple of guys that died on hunger strike and I had acquaintances who were very caught up in the Troubles, and I understand that need for revenge.”
The story is altogether horrifying and deeply disturbing, but his way of discussing it is entirely confessional. It calls to mind the story of Charles Bronson’s character Paul Kersey in Death Wish wherein a begrieved widower seeks revenge on the streets of New York City as vengeance for his wife’s rape and murder. In real life, however, and with the added dimension of racial tribalism, the story churns the stomach. It is however important to look at the story in its totality. This confession ends with an appeal to avoid violence and revenge.
In the end, Neeson ultimately came back to his senses and didn’t let himself go through with killing an innocent man. With that ending in mind, the story as a whole is harrowing. It’s the story of a real life descent into the dark night of the soul ending with Neeson ultimately making the right choice. Neeson later clarified in a Good Morning America appearance that he isn’t racist and that the events happened forty years ago and don’t reflect his current beliefs.
Naturally, however, this didn’t go over well. Immediately calls started going out to have Neeson’s life destroyed. The premiere for his movie was canceled, people started calling for him to be digitally removed from Men in Black: International, and social media as a whole erupted with condemnations of racism against Neeson.
Neeson was probably foolish for sharing such personal information with a journalist, but the incident is calling some important issues into question. Sam Harris brought up on his appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience that the incident should call into question how our society as a whole grapples with public apologies and redemption.
Neeson is being raked over the coals because he underwent a moment of moral failing and then dared to talk about it publicly. This is the insanity of the current moment. The point of the descent into the dark night is that we come out on the other end better than we entered it.
But there is no room for redemption among the left. People must be punished merely for having bad thoughts . . . whether or not they acted on them and even when they’ve grown past them over intervening decades. This system creates a perverse incentive to be dishonest about one’s sins.
It’s the opposite of the faith of St. John’s poem where trust in God can redeem us from our darkest sins.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.