You Learn Not to Judge

Felicity: Turns out he is not as dead as I thought.
Oliver: I’ve had some experience with that. You learn not to judge.

This is something I’ve liked from the beginning about Oliver’s character. His experiences on the island and beyond humbled him and made him realize his own potential for good and evil and seemed to reconcile him with others’ as well. He doesn’t judge others readily.

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Worth It

Oliver – “It was the look in Roy’s eyes.  It was…Slade all over again.”

Diggle – “Oliver, what happened with Slade?”

Oliver – “Me. Someone killed Shadow.  Slade loved Shadow and it was my fault.  I wanted to tell him because it would have been better coming from me but I didn’t…

Felicity – “And he found out another way.”

Oliver – “If I had just told him the truth, I could have gotten through to him.”

Diggle – “And that’s why it’s so important to you to get through to Roy.”

Oliver – “I lived a five year nightmare, but if I learned something that can help me reach Roy now…It’ll be worth it.”

There is a lot going on in this scene.   The first thing I noticed is that for the first time Oliver is answering Diggle’s question completely, honestly, and in a way that makes sense.  Oliver has really changed a lot in how he is able to approach his memories of the island.  I think Diggle and Felicity are helping him see how these memories can actually be useful if he can find a way to communicate them.  Diggle and Felicity are exceptional characters because they are giving Oliver the time and support he needs to learn to use and access these memories.

The second thing I noticed is how focused Oliver is on his role/guilt in the situation.  His answer to “what happened” is “Me.”  I think this is a good response and although it may be a little extreme I don’t think it is wrong.  Other people often try to convince us that it was not our fault, however owning up to your role in any situation is part of being a hero.  His admission of what he could have done differently, and how his actions affected Slade, are healthy.  He points out that someone else killed Shadow (he’s not owning this) but that he did have a role in how Slade understood the situation.  His acknowledgement of fault remind us that we are all guilty to some extent and that only God is qualified to judge or forgive.

Thirdly this quote points out an essential component to recovering from trauma.  A book I read a while ago (Trauma: The Pain That Stays) said that people were more likely to recover from a traumatic event if they could find a reason or purpose for it.  That is what Diggle and Oliver are pointing out here.  The island was a nightmare but if it can be used to help others then perhaps it was worth it.  Identifying a purpose to what he went though is part of his recovery.

I also think it is interesting to point out that the big question in this passage is when to reveal who you really are.  Oliver didn’t know how to reveal to Slade what had really happened or how this affected him and now he is unsure when/how to tell Roy the truth.  Knowing when to tell the truth and when to withhold information is very complex.

Finally, I think that in this episode, and you can even see it in this quote, Oliver has finally transitioned completely from a vigilante to a hero.  He is telling his story (to those he trusts) honestly and completely, he saved a man from Roy’s lack of control, and he is pointing out how he can use his pain to reach others.  He has found a way to use the worst parts of his life as a tool…not something that he runs from but something he is strong enough to embrace and start using.  

Will everything he went through on the island be “worth it?”  I don’t think Oliver will ever say he is glad he was shipwrecked there or glad for everything he lost/gained as a result.  However, I do think it is possible, and that Oliver now understands, how even though these horrific experiences will always be a part of him they can be used in a positive way and hopefully that will give him resolve. 

Others

“I got wrapped up in my own suffering and forgot that some other people might be suffering too.”

It takes an extremely strong person to see and say this. Most people are suffering in one way or another (whether very small or very large.)  Yet here, Oliver is able to step away from his own problems (which are quite huge), to see others’ perspectives and the fact that they are going through hardships too.   Seeing and acknowledging this, and doing it without judgement, is one of his his greatest strengths.  He is aware of the “The God Perspective” as I call it.  The idea that just as he (Oliver) has a lot he is not saying and incredibly hard things he is processing through…so do others. 

Accepting Him

Thea: So, what, he gets a free pass?
Moira: No, I just think we need to stop judging him for the Oliver he was and start accepting him for the Oliver he is.

It can be really hard to see someone for who they really are and not as who we want or expect them to be.  Our lives are so busy and we have so much going on in our own minds, hearts, and circumstances that stopping to really think about who someone else is, what they might have been through, or how they are trying to express themselves to us can be really difficult.  Listening, accepting, and understanding someone really takes focus, time, and work…but it’s worth it.

Judgements

Helena – “We share a name and that name defines us whether we want it to or not.  You’ve already made judgments about me just like I’ve already made judgments about you.”

This is really true…we make judgement calls about people before we even know their names.  We assess what they are wearing (finances), how they stand (posture/health), how they speak (education).  This can be a problem but in some ways initial judgement is a really good thing.  It allows us to make quick calls about who is safe and who is not.  We have cultural ques so deep in us that we don’t realize we have the skill to just look down the street quickly and answer questions such as, “who could I talk to in an emergency,”  “who would I approach if I was in trouble?” “who is probably some that is not safe and I should stay clear of them?” “who could I borrow a phone from if I had to make an emergency call?”  “who could help me understand where I am if I were lost?” “Who is foreign to this area?”  The ability to answer questions like these without even asking them is something that we are not taught…we just know by looking at people.  In another culture we can’t do this…we don’t have the same cues/clues.  I think that is part of what makes living/being in another country so hard. Initial judgement may be wrong but they are often helpful too…and as long as we are open to changing our opinion about someone (whether that be from “bad person” to “good person” or vise versa) then I think the initial judgements are there to help us.