What Do You Want?

What Do You Want?

In season three of Ozark, Marty Byrde is kidnapped by a Mexican drug lord, Omar Navarro, his partner in a money-laundering scheme. Navarro doesn’t trust Marty and holds him in dimly lit cell until he can prove his trustworthiness. In several scenes Navarro asks Marty what he wants, all the while torturing him if his answers aren’t truthful enough. Of course, Marty wants to see his wife and kids again. He wants to live. But, he’s a money launderer. He loves the challenge. He loves the money. He’s in it because he is it. Finally, after taking beatings for many false answers, Marty says he wants two things; to launder money only when he says it’s safe and to turn an FBI agent who can then guarantee immunity should he get caught. This satisfies Navarro and Marty is released. You can’t watch those scenes without asking yourself the same question, what do I want? The answer has to pass the Navarro test. It must be fundamentally honest.

In a real life equivalence to Ozark, Andrew Cuomo, the Governor of NY, asks Black Lives Matter protesters; what do you want? It’s not enough to simply protest against something you don’t like, he says, you have to want something. To fight against something isn’t necessarily to want something. Reactivity is not an answer. We can topple all the statues in the world and put paint on buildings and streets but that doesn’t necessarily say what you want. What do you want, Cuomo asks the protesters. Ultimately, the protestors in NY (and around the country) want inclusion and the recognition that until there is a national shift in perspective and priorities black lives will always be at-risk. Letetra Widman, Jacob Blake’s sister, in a call for justice said: “I’m not sad. I don’t want your pity. I want change.” Her answer passes the Navarro test.

Whether we’re watching fiction on TV or real life dramas unfold in front of our eyes the question being asked of us right now has a consistent ring; what do we want? We cannot deny that this question is being asked against the backdrop of COVID and civil unrest where life is more uncertain and rightfully more valued, where time moves more slowly, routines are different, anxiety is commonplace, social unrest is high, civil discourse is low and we have more time to think than ever before. Common responses to the question are: I want to go back to work. I want schools to reopen. I want a vaccine. I want my life back again. It’s like Marty saying that he wants to see his wife and kids again. Of course he wanted to, but that answer was not the deeper truth. It did not pass the Navarro test. What would he do if that wish were granted? He had to be more honest than that. He had to know in his heart what he wanted and then he had to do what it took to get it. If you want to be healthy then what are you willing to do to be healthy? If you want change within the system, what are you willing to do to get it? What commitment are you willing to make? We all want something, but we can only have that which we are willing to unequivocally pursue.

In the age of COVID nothing is the same as it was before, and yet in the age of civil unrest everything is the same as before; together they have forced us to reevaluate our priorities, change our lifestyles, make sacrifices against an everchanging landscape, all while asking ourselves, what do I really want? This unique period in time has become the great equalizer causing us to respect people we took for granted including food handlers, cashiers, delivery people and transportation workers. It has exposed our vulnerabilities and accentuated our adaptability. We’ve become more versatile and less vain. As our world is changing we have to be aware of the “higher wants” we are striving for. The question, what do you want, goes beyond our immediate needs and desires and into a deeper and higher realm of needs.

So, I ask you, what do you want?

Five Minute Articles For Your Consideration7 comments

7 Comments
  1. Cynthia says:

    Reading your message, there’s just this heaviness in my chest. This feeling of being called out on the carpet to reveal something I don’t have words for – yet. Thanks for prompting real reflection here.

  2. Evie says:

    This was awesome. Thanks a lot. Going to post it for the few that I know will appreciate and enjoy reading it.

  3. Malinee says:

    Always a question I haven’t been able to answer as things fall into my lap or circumstances present themselves and I tend to be reactive about them versus proactive in really finding my path.

    • Larry says:

      Hi Malinee, I think you hit upon the real key here, being proactive rather than accepting what comes our way. Thank you for that. Even the smallest proactive step often leads to the greatest rewards – one step at a time. Hope you’re doing well out there…

  4. Evie says:

    I most certainly did!!

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