Society, Jesus, and Hannah Baker: The Real Lessons in 13 Reasons Why

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Warning: Before you read this, know that I do not condone or support the actions and words of Hannah Baker or any other character in this show.

If you haven’t seen or heard the newest show trending on Netflix, let me enlighten you. 13 Reasons Why is a Netflix Original show centered around the suicide of Hannah Baker and the tapes she leaves behind. These 13 tapes outline the 13 reasons why she killed herself. Basically, each tape is centered around one person and each person on the tapes has to listen to all of the tapes before passing them on to the next listener.

A majority of people who watch the show believe that they learned that words and actions hurt and the act of suicide hurts people also. Honestly, while that is a large point in the show, I think the show can be taken a little deeper than that. After all, did we really need a show to tell us that we shouldn’t bully or rape someone?

No Regrets: Be the Person You Want to be Tomorrow Today

As confusing a statement that may sound, it’s simple to understand. Whether it be Clay’s love for Hannah or the counselor’s wishing he could help, most of the characters in the show have severe regrets about their interactions with Hannah. The problem is, these characters can’t fix anything once she’s dead. While they may wish that they could stop her or change their actions, they can’t.

Our lives are short and you never know when you’ll see someone last. This is why we all need to be the people we want to be tomorrow today. This goes for everything we do. If you want to be a nicer person tomorrow, do it today. If you want to get closer to God tomorrow, start today. If you want to be more athletic tomorrow, start training today. If we do all we can to live by this principle, we can live with less regret and more positive influences.

The Infinite Reasons for Crucifixion

This idea of regrets can be taken a step further. During this series, I heard multiple say, “I killed Hannah Baker!” While they may not have actually killed Hannah Baker, the thought that they did something that made her kill herself tore them apart. If Jesus sent out tapes after he died on the cross, we’d all receive them. We all killed Jesus. We are all as guilty as the people who chanted for him to be crucified, the man who sold him out (Judas), and the guy who denied him (Peter). The difference between Jesus and Hannah Baker in this situation is that Jesus died so that he could conquer death and forgive us of our sins.

Worldly Possessions Will Never Make You Happy

Each of Hannah Baker’s 13 reasons is based on a person who failed her. She put her trust in them and they didn’t fulfill her happiness. Each character has something that they use to try to fulfill their happiness. Jessica falls into alcoholism, Bryce tries just about everything, and Justin’s need for a relationship or party is ridiculous. The problem is, just like Hannah’s faith in people, the faith that these characters have in their worldly possession(s) fails them.

The problem of trying to please ourselves with worldly possessions is not a foreign one to most. People believe if they can get one more car, paycheck, or friend, they’ll be happy and when that thing fails them, they turn to the next thing which is generally a new addiction such as sex, drugs, alcohol, or even relationships (this one is probably most popular). The only thing that can truly give you joy is a relationship with Jesus. Putting your faith in Him may not be easy, but he’s the only thing that never fails.

Where is the Church in Today’s Youth?

While 13 Reasons Why may be an extreme version of the average high school, it certainly is not inaccurate. In a majority of high schools in America, there are kids who are doing things they regret or planning on being different in the future instead of today. In a majority of high schools in America, there are a large group of kids who have turned to drugs, alcohol, sex, and general relationships for happiness. The worst part is, in a majority of high schools in America, there are students how have been failed by what they put their faith in and have turned to self-harm and suicidal thoughts. As I watched all of this happen on my computer and television, I had one thought, “where is the church in this story?”

While this show is secular and I don’t expect an active church presence in it and there is a counselor to help, I couldn’t help but compare this fictional high school to our real schools. The answer to my previously asked question in the real world is simple. I know where the church is. The church is in the church.

I know this may not be true for some churches, but a large group of churches never go to reach the high schoolers where they are. Most students are not going to actively look to go to a Wednesday night youth service or Sunday morning adult service. With that fact, it is important for pastors to try anything they can to not only get into the schools bring Jesus to kids (or even just get them to go to church) but to grow their relationship with them. If kids could be informed of the one thing that will never fail them, this show and our schools would be completely different.

Conclusion

This show should teach people to do more than not be a poor influence on each other. This show should teach people to become positive influences on each other. Personally, I’ve seen and known kids who have fallen into empty worldly temptations and while I may try my best to let them know about Jesus, I can’t help but think what could be done if they were reached before by a church and as a future youth pastor, I can’t help but think that I would not be satisfied knowing that I wasn’t doing my best to reach the kids in my area.

 

 

This post was written while I consumed sweet tea.

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