Philip Seymour Hoffman and a Surfeit of Selfishness4
Someone finally found the courage to say it, so I will too. Continue reading . . .
Someone finally found the courage to say it, so I will too.
Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of my favorite actors. I first saw him in the film Twister. Given the fact that much of the film was produced here in Oklahoma and that he wore an OU cap throughout endeared him to me immediately! His character, “Dusty”, was a classic. There were other films in which he appeared that were of greater quality, such as Moneyball, and his performance as Truman Capote, which won him the Academy Award for Best Actor, was of the highest order of excellence.
Hoffman was found in his apartment a few weeks ago, dead of a heroin overdose. I grieve for all those who knew him and who have suffered such great loss. Please don’t take my comments that follow as disrespectful or disdainful of him. Drug addiction is a horrible affliction and our compassion for those caught up in it ought to be deep and sincere. But in all the media buzz about whether we should change our drug laws or who might have supplied him with the heroin, I didn’t hear much about the family he left behind. Until today.
In this week’s issue of The Week (February 21, 2014), there is an excerpt from Joseph Curl’s column in The Washington Times, titled, “The victims of Hoffman’s addiction.” They summarize what Curl had to say in this manner:
“After the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death from a heroin overdose broke last week, everyone agreed it was ‘sad’ and ‘tragic,’ said Joseph Curl. What a shame, people said, that such a talented actor had died so young, at 46, overcome by the ‘disease’ of addiction. The implication: His relapse and death were ‘not his fault.’ But do you know what’s really sad? That he chose heroin not only over his work and his life, but over his three young children, ages 10, 7, and 5. When children lose a parent to addiction, psychologists say, they wonder why mom or dad loved the drug more than them – and question whether it was their inadequacy that caused this abandonment. Such psychic wounds are deep and lasting. Hoffman had the same chance as other addicts to beat back his ‘personal demons’ and get help to regain sobriety. Millions have made this choice. But instead of cleaning himself up for his family, Hoffman ‘went the other way, down in the darkness.’ And now his children must deal with the consequences. ‘That’s the real legacy Philip Seymour Hoffman left.’”
Although, technically speaking, heroin killed him, in another sense Hoffman died from a surfeit of selfishness. “Surfeit” – an overabundant supply; excess; an intemperate or immoderate indulgence in something (so it is defined). Would that somewhere along the pathway of life he might have paused to consider the devastation wrought on his children by his selfish choices. Would that he might have reached out to someone, anyone, for the sake of his kids who now must live fatherless and confused and so very deeply hurt.
I can’t be certain this is what Curl had in mind in his column, but it’s what has stuck in mine ever since I heard of Hoffman’s death. Yes, we should feel sadness and loss for this man. But even greater should be our heartache for those three kids whom he left behind for the sake of another “high”. The word “high” seems so singularly inappropriate for an act so selfishly “low” as his.