The bar/confrontation scene from Good Will Hunting (1998) is one of my favorite movie scenes because it reveals something uncomfortable about us; we are all posers. In the scene, Will Hunting played by Matt Damon and his friends, who are from a poor part of South Boston decide one night to visit a Harvard bar. After Will’s friend played by Ben Affleck attempts to pick up some girls, he is confronted by an arrogant MIchael Bolton look-a-like Harvard graduate student. The graduate student begins to taunt Affleck’s character in front of the ladies by showing off his supposed knowledge of early American History. The scene is full of class-tension but underneath there is something deeper; a man’s authenticity is being challenged.
Watch the scene to understand.
“But at least I won’t be unoriginal”
Our education system creates unoriginal posers who are incentivized to memorize facts and other people’s ideas. This happens to people of all ages, not just in school. I work in an office that tempts to suck the creative spirit out of me. There are days when I feel the desire to go to graduate school but then I realize that another degree or a graduate degree will only serve as an entry point to feeding my pride. As I evaluate my heart, I catch myself yearning just to see extra initials after my name on a business card or a resume. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong with a degree or a graduate degree.
My point is this.
You are only as good as what you do with your education.
We are all posers unless we use our education for the better and for each person that will be something personal and hopefully unique. The viewer learns later in the film that Will Hunting was a poser for not using the gift that God had given him. We are left at the end of the movie not knowing what he does with his education but that is probably the beauty of the story to embrace.
I apply this scene to my life because God has given me many dreams that I can sit on or pursue. I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ words,
God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.
God gives us experience and the passions to act. By faith, he calls us to trust him in this journey. This is life’s great education. God gives us choice on what to do with this education and I am learning that I need to take seriously what he has given to me. I am awaken.
I am learning that it is not my degree or credentials that matter. He loves me no matter what and it is what I do with my education that matters. That is what makes the world stand up and clap.
I need to write.
I need to take the risks.
I need to engage fearlessly with my wife and my kids.
I need to leave the excuses behind and go forward with this education.
I may not have multiple PhDs. But my hope in life is that at least I won’t be unoriginal.
What are you learning about your education? What do you want to do with it?