A few weeks back, my wife and I saw The Passion of the Christ
soon after its release. Being relatively well-versed in the biblical history and having paid attention to the press leading up to the movie, I was not as moved by the violence in the movie, having known about it for years and having dealt with that part of the crucifixion. One thing that I did find moving and something that I had never thought about before was the relational pain that Jesus was forced to endure during this time. His friends and family were forced to undergo tremendous agony and anguish on His behalf and I had never really considered that to be part of the burden He bore at that point.
This idea of how far we will go to keep those we love from pain and harm was one of the main points of a short story by the horror writer Stephen King called Quitters Inc.. The premise is that an organization exists for people who have tried everything to break an addictive cycle (in this case tobacco) and are willing to do "anything" to quit. The story pits addiction against love as this Machiavellian organization threatens to harm the loved ones of their clients for each infraction against their plan: smoke a cigarette and your wife gets pulled in and subject to electro-shock. The voltage and duration is increased with each successive infraction. The breaking of limbs follows with children being pulled in eventually. Finally, if the person will not break the addiction, the organization will break the addiction for them. Permanently. At the end of a .45.
The story reflects the desperate grip that addiction holds in many of our lives. Tobacco, alcohol, gambling, food, sex, and many other things grip our lives with a seemingly unbreakable grasp. But it suggests that if given enough motivation, anyone could break the cycle. It also shows how strong our love is for our families and is allegorical to the lengths we will go to keep those we love safe.
The story appears in the book Night Shift and has a satisfying twist at the end. It was adapted for the movie Cat's Eye, a completely forgettable adaptation of a number of King short stories tied together with a really bad subplot. The adaptation featured James Woods and Alan King and had a hallucinatory sequence of Alan King dancing in a party to the Police's Every Breath You Take. This has completely ruined the song for me, as now everytime I hear it, my mental image is of a stout Jewish man dancing in a hazy dinner party.