Yes, here I am, still talking in Dr. Who terminology. I have been going around and around concerning how this relates to real life. It has to do so, because all good art does indeed relate to the human condition.
So, this is my latest and most concrete analogy on the subject of the End Of Time episodes.
First of all, in the manner of great writers, Russell T. Davies has created for himself, and us, a philosophical plain upon which to launch this doctors’ exploits. He has given us a character of such intensely profound merit and substance, so as to eliminate any possibility of disapproval. For, even in the midst of self revelation concerning his failings, we find that forgiveness is the key to everything. We certainly forgive him for what he’s done in the past, because he has committed himself to solving the problems of the universe. That’s something we’d all like to be doing. Traveling freely around the globe (our universe) and spreading a mantle of grace and goodwill to mankind. Seriously, deep down, most of us would like that.
So, in his travels, the Doctor does his best to cure what ails us, and prevent disasters…all the while contributing to them. And still, he saves the worlds in which he travels. This is a messiah. The character of Doctor Who is a savior, and we saw it in Utopia and The Sound of Drums. In spite of The Master’s world domination, the thing that finally saved the earth was it’s entire population chanting the name “Doctor”…I’m sure George Harrison would have been pleased. They were Chanting The Name(s) of The Lord. Time Lord, that is.
So, since Mr. Davies is an admitted atheist, his doctrine of choice is presented here as power in believing, believing being power. That’s fine. I adhere to that as well, although not faith in the Doctor, obviously. Still, a model is in place, and it is the driving force behind what makes the Doctor tick. He needs people to believe in him, and when that fails, he is restrained somewhat in his ability to help. His pro-active stance on things generates faith, so that he is able to act before being asked, but without the cooperation of believers, he is limited. Much like us, in order to fulfill our destinies and desires, we must step out and act before we have assurances from those around us.
Our biggest failures come when we doubt ourselves, and so it is with Doctor Who. His companions offer temperance to his zeal, conscience to his audacity. But, in the end, he is right and knows best what he needs to do. When people “believe” in us, we step out with greater joy into the arenas of life to which we aspire. Sometimes we have to go forth without the comfort of agreement and encouragement, but there is always the seed of someone’s word or gesture that leads us to believe in ourselves. None of us is completely alone, even when it feels as though we travel in solitude. Something abides deep within.
Don’t we all want something like a Tardis in which to travel at a whim? Limitless free miles would be the near equivalent, I imagine. Well, perhaps a personal jet would be closer, but the other is nearer to a type of reality for most of us. Get on a plane and head into a new adventure with unbounded opportunities to explore, help or assist people in need. This is a high calling, altruistic and clearly defined. But, there’s that other aspect of our nature that wants to be devoted to our own pleasures and pursuits, not hindered by the needs of others. It is most consistent with reality, however, when our plans are interrupted by life’s little surprises. Just like the Doctor, we encounter life changing situations in the people we meet or the circumstances into which we enter.
Karma or destiny, serendipity or a fool’s foibles. Each day is a new world of possibilities, and our actions will determine the outcome. Those fixed points in time are behind us. Now, today, we can create our world and chart our journey. At the end, our Doctor made a choice. The prophecy of his death was not fixed, because at the moment of it’s fulfillment, he had a choice. His was one of integrity and morality. It was an act of courage and selflessness. In spite of Davies’ atheistic leanings, his hero is a Christ- like figure. He denied himself and sacrificed his own life in order to free someone without abilities or power. But, what did he impart to Wilf by saving his life? What future greatness is there in him still? The religious overtones are abundant, and so too, then, the philosophical ones. Our Doctor is a savior, and he sacrifices himself in order to fulfill his destiny as such. The symbolism of it being for the one man, the lost sheep, overlaps all of the other aspects of this character. As he utters that last line “I don’t want to go”, the image of Jesus’ suffering in the garden emerges. His prayer to God, “if it be your will, let this cup pass”…don’t send me. But, he goes and the sacrifice is made.
Our Doctor does give himself, totally, to the call of destiny. He made the choice, as we do on a daily basis. None of us has to do anything, except for the sense of right and wrong, and our accountability to that. It might be for the sake of the world, or the seemingly smaller events in life. I choose to be an artist. It may not change the world, but perhaps, because I’m doing what I believe in my soul is right for me, the effects of that could ripple into the lives of other people. It might generate change in a way not yet conceived in my mind. Not following this path, however, might also have an effect. I choose the former.
There is an old testament pronouncement concerning choices: “I set before you this day, life and death. Choose life” ** God mandates that we choose. Nothing is forced on us, because, ultimately, regardless of what other people do, we still make a choice in how that will affect us. I think Doctor Who and Russell T. Davies recognize that.
Ultimately, the thing that drives the Doctor is love. His love for humanity, and for his own life. Because, he won’t be able to live with himself, in any form, if he doesn’t fulfill that driving motivation to love. And, because he is a man of action, love will compel him to do the right thing. He didn’t want to give up his life, but the actions he took brought him to that point. His ability to love Wilf’s life more than his own was his defining moment.
We will all have those opportunities to love someone else more than we love ourselves. But, like the Doctor, we will need to love ourselves first in order to understand what that means.
**Deutoronomy 30.19:New Living Translation (©2007)
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!