The West Wing, The Office…and Community


My brother is my go-to-guy for when I need a new TV series to watch. Under his considered influence I have fallen in love with Joshua Lyman (please tell me you know who I mean!?) and lovingly cringed my way through every episode of The Office (British version, naturally).  His latest recommendation was ‘Community’. He hasn’t led me astray yet, so off I ventured. If you are considering watching Community, let me encourage you to hang in there until about half way through the first series. I had seriously thought my bro had lost his way. But I persevered – and I’m so glad I did. Yes, it is the antics (and yes, ‘antics’ is the right word because it is reminiscent of an 80’s college movie) of a group of thrown together students from a community college (I resisted using ‘misfits’ there- feel free to thank me), but it’s overarching themes of belonging and finding friendship in the unlikely places, mixed with a Chinese-American Spanish teacher (the self-proclaimed ‘El Tigre Chino’ – the Spanish Tiger!!), make it worth it.

There are few really poignant moments in the first series (or maybe I missed them? correct me if I’m wrong), but there was one that I have continued to think of over the last few weeks.

In episode 4 one of the characters (Pierce) has bought an ear piece that allows him to hear people talking from quite a distance (think Inspector Gadget!).  Throughout the episode he overhears comments of a disparaging nature directed at him and at his friends.  At the end of the episode, another character (Jeff) asks to borrow the ear piece so that he can find out what someone is saying about him.

Their interaction goes something like this:

Jeff: Give me your ear thingy

Pierce: Got rid of it. There are certain things man is not meant to hear. We were designed, by whatever entity you choose, to hear what is in this range [spreading his arms in front of him], and really this range alone. Because you know who is talking to us in this range? The people we love.

I love how simple it is. We were designed to hear only that which is whispered and giggled under makeshift tents, huddled together in the darkness.  We were designed to only hear that which is spoken over glasses of wine, cutlery clattering and uncontrollable laughter.  We were designed to only hear the words spoken by our beloved ones on either side of us as we settle into watch a movie.

Where intimacy and relationship are daily mimicked, we are truly found and truly heard, at the centre, surrounded by words spoken over us, for us, to us, by those we love.  Here is the safest place. Choose to sit here. Choose to listen to these words. Choose to silence the rush of assumption that clouds our heads and hearts.  We were designed for better than this.

Postscript: my brother is one of those whose words breathe life into me. He not only solidly resides in my inner circle, he dances his way around me, spinning life and light.

Post-postscript: this will not be the last time The West Wing will be mentioned. I have purposely held back on my love of the Bartlet Administration. The flood gates have been opened…


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