The Breakfast Club Character Test: Why We All Need Detention

This quote seemed so appropriate this day after the election that I just had to share it, “Screws fall out all the time. The world’s an imperfect place.” It came from a truly iconic film, The Breakfast Club. In the aftermath of division and hatred that has epitomized this country during the election season, I thought it might be good to get back to this very basic understanding, the world is imperfect; broken. And quite honestly if it were left to humans to fix it we would never succeed, because we, like the world, are imperfect. But that doesn’t mean we despair and quit trying. It just means that we should shift our thinking and efforts a bit. So, here is a look at the Breakfast Club Character Test we should all be taking.screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-6-02-06-pm

So How Did We Get Here?

Allison says it well in the movie. It’s in response to Andrew’s question, “My God, are we gonna be like our parents?” Claire says, “Not me – ever.” Allison pipes in and says, “It’s unavoidable; it just happens…When you grow up your heart dies.” Bender responds with, “So, who cares.” And Allison clenches it with two words, “I care.” It does seem to so many of us now, that there are those “other people” with hearts of stone or hearts that have died. For many the future seems hopeless. For others, they truly are jubilant and hopeful we will at last find healing for us and the world under the guidance of our new President. I hope they are right. But, at the risk of sounding all doom and gloom, it isn’t going to happen, at least not in the long-term. Not that I’m predicting failure for Trump in particular. That isn’t my point. What I am saying is this.

“We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it than others.” We all have our issues. As Ted said on Monday, we all miss the mark of perfection. But that’s okay, as long as we don’t allow our hearts to die. This movie’s message is timeless. A group of students come into detention all from different social groups in high school that never interact. Knowing about each other, but not truly knowing each other, they do what most humans do, that is, they view each other with, at least, suspicion, or actual dislike. Even hatred. Sound familiar? Sound a bit like a hopeless divide?

Where Do We Go From Here?

Still, they ARE all part of the same school. Not only that, they are also in detention together, with the same assignment: to write an essay about who they are. Through their interactions, barriers drop. They come to know each other, to understand the different perspectives of the other, and the hopes, dreams, and human souls of each other.


Each kid saw into the heartache of the other kids there. They glimpsed the struggles each one faced, whether placed upon them by parents, peers, or by themselves. And they chose to redefine themselves. “You see us as you want to see us – in the simplest terms in the most convenient definitions But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain…and an athlete…and a basket case…a princess…and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Yours truly, The Breakfast Club.”

In this election we came to define people by the “simplest of terms and most convenient definitions:” Democrat, Republican, liar, rapist, criminal, megalomaniac, idiots, assholes, and a whole stream of expletives I won’t go into. But none of us fit those definitions entirely. And all of us fit those definitions to some extent. Simply put, aren’t we all a bit more complex than that? Yes, we are all fallible, but we are, also made in God’s image. We are his work of art.

So Here’s The Breakfast Club Character Test We Must all Take

Sit down with someone whose opinions are different from yours. Be in each other’s presence, not on social media. Instead of talking politics and all the things you disagree on, look for what you have in common. Share your hurts and your hopes. For instance, we all want to feel safe and secure. We want our children to grow up in a beautiful world where there is no war. We want to feel like we are a part of this country, that we have not been excluded from it. We want peace. We want to feel loved and important. We want to feel like we’re heard and understood. Dwell on those things so that you truly understand each other. You’ll discover, you’re not so different. Only when you find common ground and understanding can you then go on to work together on solutions to those issues that prey on our society.

So, if a fictitious group of high school students can find a sense of unity by sheer accident, can’t we, as adults, do so on purpose? Isn’t it time for civil dialogue? Perhaps the planet is in trouble and there is an epic war that awaits us on some distant horizon. Take this to heart: Love will always remain. Rest assured, presidents and elections can’t stop Love. Wars can’t stop it. Terrorists can’t stop it. Even death cannot stop it. It’s our choice, however, to allow our hearts to experience that love as well as extend it. May we not let our hearts die or turn to stone. All it requires is a simple yielding to the understanding that we don’t know shit, we don’t have all the answers, we are all bizarre, and we all absolutely need each other. That is my hope, my prayer, for this country. Live Loved, Give Love. Be the inclusive change someone else needs to see.

I just know you're itching to say something. Come on, talk to me.