There is always a huge discrepancy between the ideal and the real world. Often times we are taught of the proper behaviors in a society and ethics in school but to my distress they are seldom applied in the workplace. The gray areas are often times the pitfalls of our character, reputation and faith. Sometimes we are even trapped by our selfishness which originally came out of our desire to help.
Temptations show us the realities of our hearts. In the movie Bad Genius, the problem aroused when Lynn accepted her friends’ money as payment for the right answers. I believe that she had good intentions to help but the opportunities given to her led to shame and deceit. Gratefully, in the end, she was able to choose what is better.
While watching the movie, I realized that our desire to help can cause us to stumble if we don’t watch and pray. When we take the matters into our own hands, we will fall. When our desire to do good is overpowered by our own selfishness, we will give in to temptations. These temptations in turn will lead us to a series of lies. Until we listen to God’s spirit convicting us of our shortcomings, we will be trapped. There won’t be peace in our hearts and our thoughts will always be preoccupied with the things that we did wrong.
Teach by example. When Lynn was tempted to accept payment in exchange for her brilliance, I believe it wasn’t because they were financially lacking. It was because she learned from the example of the teachers in her new school that accepting payment is valid. She learned from her father that the principal was collecting “tea money” for the teachers’ consumption. She then reasoned that accepting payment in exchange for helping her classmates pass the subject is then acceptable. I am reminded that teaching is a noble profession. Teachers must devote their lives to teach their students not just the concepts but by setting as examples to emulate. Outstanding character is much needed in order for students to be morally upright. In the same way, parents must teach their children the values to live by. I commend Lynn’s dad for having integrity and accepting the cancellation of Lynn’s scholarship after the principal discovered the cheating that had happened. He stood for what he believed is right despite the consequences. He was brave enough to face his daughter’s faults. I believe that it is also because of the values of Lynn’s dad that she ultimately chose to do what is right. Despite his high hopes for her, he doesn’t want her to do it the wrong way.
Love despite of imperfections. The contrast of the love and acceptance of Lynn’s dad and the pressure given by the parents of Lynn’s friends is evident in the movie. Despite the wealth of her friends, they were having trouble in school. They want to please their parents so badly that they resulted to cheating. Their need for validation is partly due to the gifts that their parents promised if they pass the subjects. I realized that pushing kids to excel should be coupled with support and encouragement. Parents should not leave them on their own lest they think they need to be what they are not. Had there been openness between parents and children about their struggles in school, they might not have resulted to violate academic integrity. I believe that parents are called to love despite their children’s imperfections. It is a hard call but God will be the one to enable the love and acceptance. As children, we are also called to love back. For Lynn, it meant listening to her dad’s advice and wisdom. She might have avoided all the trouble if she obeyed him during his first warning when the principal found out that she allowed her classmates to cheat. Authorities are given by God for our own good so we ought to follow them.
Flee from temptations. As mentioned earlier, Lynn was faced with a series of temptations throughout her high school days. Seeing her friends live their lives luxuriously may have caused her to pity her social status. According to Jesus, money is the root of all kinds of evil. This fact is evident in the movie as well. When Lynn was offered a hefty sum of money in exchange for her “services”, her desire to feel accepted and be at par with her friends have strengthened her decision to accept. Fleeing from temptation might have meant that Lynn should look for new friends during her free time or school breaks or transfer to a different section. In real life I believe that this is hard to do. In order to avoid these unnecessary troubles, it is important to ask God to lead us to the right set of friends. I believe that he will honor it because it is His will for us to be in a group of God loving people.
Use our gifts wisely. Lynn was gifted academically. She was able to ace the tests without sweat! God gave her the ability to do so! When she willingly taught her friend, she exercised this gift well. I realized that when we look outward—that is when we prioritize others’ needs, we are more likely to use our gifts wisely. But when we seek our own satisfaction first, our ability to bless others will often decrease. As followers of Christ, we ought to use our abilities for God’s glory. In this light, we need to use it in the right context and in the right manner.
Value clear conscience. Honesty has a high price. This truth is evident in the movie. Lynn and her friends carried a heavy burden for several years. The small whispers to tell the truth and act in the right manner was silenced by their heart’s desire to want more things. For Lynn it meant more money, for her friends it meant higher grades and material stuff as rewards from their parents. We cannot value clear conscience if we do not put God at the center of our lives. When we ask the Holy Spirit to direct our paths, God will enable us to hear His small but definite whispers amidst the loud distractions in this world.
Change for the better. In the last part of the movie, Lynn was suddenly convinced that what she did was wrong. When she came back from Australia after the exam, she confessed the truth to her dad. After a while, Bank, another gifted classmate who went with her to Australia, asked her to visit his newly renovated laundry shop. He used the money he got to improve his parents’ business and made an offer to Lynn to take SAT and do the same thing. Lynn graciously declined Bank’s offer and decided to confess what they did to the authorities. In the earlier part of the movie, Bank was the honest guy. He was the one who reported the cheating that had happened during the class. It was because of him that Lynn’s business got discovered but in the end, he was not able to stand true to his beliefs. Revenge and love for money had taken over him. Merely wanting to do what is right will not sustain us. When we put our faith and trust in God that He will enable us to be changed, that’s when real growth takes place and character changed.
In the end, what good is it to gain the world but forfeit your soul? (Matthew 16:26) I realized that despite the success of the business to which brought Lynn and her friends “freedom”, there was guilt, a heavy burden that they ought to bear for the rest of their lives. If not for Lynn’s courage to tell the truth, their future will be without peace. And the very thing that they thought would give them joy will make them regret for the rest of their lives. This movie gave me much hope that integrity will still win in the end.