Learning to Love Others Through LOSTCulture, Television — By Stephanie Baker on October 7, 2013 at 7:00 am
Though we were made to live in relationships with others, many people go through life alone. They have jobs and friends and interact with others, maybe on a daily basis even, but they never really let anyone close to them. No one knows their secrets, and they face all of their struggles, internal and external, on their own. But this is no way to live. God created us to live in harmony together, helping one another and loving each other through everything. When you already feel that you’re facing life alone, it can be hard to trust others and learn how to be loved, as well as learn how to love others. Yet if you learned this seemingly simple lesson, life would be so much richer. One of the greatest examples of this can be found in the television series LOST.
By understanding the finale, we can begin learning to love others through LOST. When LOST ended in 2010, many people were disappointed and angry with the finale. The writers didn’t answer every single question, and they felt gypped because they’d invested so much into the show and didn’t think the ending was much of a reward. These people, however, missed the whole point of the show. If you asked them what LOST was actually about, they might say, “a plane crash,” “a mysterious island,” “unanswered questions,” “time travel and other sci-fi strangeness,” or something along those lines. While the show incorporates each of those things, that’s not what it’s about. The main point of LOST can be summed up in one word: characters.
From the first episode, LOST focused on the fourteen main cast of characters, with that cast decreasing and increasing throughout the six seasons as some people died and new ones were introduced. The beauty of the show is found in each of these characters, in their trials and heartache, their sorrows and joys. The first season makes this clear through the use of flashbacks. Each episode focuses on one character and uses flashbacks to show why that character is acting the way they are in the present. The flashbacks quickly develop the characters: Jack is the heroic, over-controlling doctor who feels he can never live up to his father; Kate is the always-on-the-run criminal who comes from a broken home; Sawyer is the conman who hates himself as much as he hates everyone around him; Sun and Jin are the married couple who keep so many secrets from each other, they barely talk to one another; Charlie is the drug-addict rock star whose brother ruined his life; Claire is the pregnant, single girl who’s giving the baby up for adoption; Hurley is the overweight funny guy who won the lottery and used to be in a mental institution; Sayid is the romantic torturer who fights his demons almost daily; Locke is the older guy who used to be in a wheelchair and felt he had no purpose in life. Through these flashbacks, we see the reasons for why the characters act the way they do. Through the events on the island, we watch them grow, learn, and change with each other. Fast forward six seasons, and you can barely recognize these characters. They have experienced love and loss, and changed for the better because of their experiences together.
LOST does something that not many other shows can do. It brings together a group of seemingly random people that have nothing to do with one another and forces them to live together. Their ages, nationalities, religions, and experiences are all different; they have no reason to be together other than the fact that they all happened to be on the same plane. They would never have talked to each other if the plane had not crashed. However, they all have one thing in common: they’re alone. They’re alone in their sorrows and sin. They have no one to trust. These “Losties” are truly lost in the world. They could be anyone you see on the street. As they are forced to live together though, they come to know one another. They challenge each other and learn from one another, and, somehow, they learn to love each other. They learn that they need each other, a simple human truth that we could all learn. We need other people. LOST exploits this simple human need: God made us to live in a community with other people who love us, faults and all. The Losties don’t learn this lesson right away – it takes six seasons for them to live it out – but when they do, it’s something beautiful. They each learn how to selflessly love another person.
LOST does contain suspense and mystery – the monster, polar bears, time travel, other people inhabiting the island, etc. It’s not a show that could happen in real life. But the people on the show are real. The mysterious things only aid in developing and growing the characters. Viewers get distracted by those things, and thus they were upset when their questions were not answered in the finale. But that wasn’t the job of the finale. The finale’s job, based on how character-driven the show was, was to give a satisfying ending to those beloved characters in a way that would give credit to all that they had been through. And the finale does just that. It emphasizes why the characters needed each other. It shows you the important moments in their lives and reminds you, the viewer, that you cannot live life alone. You need other people to love and be loved by, just as much as the Losties needed each other.
In the season five finale, one character complains to another about the corruptibleness of humanity, saying, “It always ends the same.” The other character responds, “It only ends once. Everything that comes before is just progress.” This line applies to every life and is illustrated in the lives of the Losties. They make mistakes and feel despair, but they learn and change. They don’t give up on themselves or each other. They learn forgiveness and sacrifice and selfless love. The beauty of the finale is that, though their experiences were strange and unrealistic, the characters’ emotions and growth were very realistic. They didn’t need all of their questions to be answered, they didn’t need the strangeness explained – they only needed to be together and loved. Just like in our lives – we can never have all of our questions answered, but we don’t need them to be. Though LOST is not a Christian show, it has Christian themes, and the finale ends with the most important one in the show. The only way we can survive this life is by living together, demonstrating God’s love by selflessly loving one another.