We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves
– La Rouchefoucauld “Reflections; or Sentences and Moral Maxims”
The opening card from episode four of Classroom of the Elite is an intriguing one because the first half of it seems to point obviously at certain characters – Kushida, especially, but also Horikita and newly introduced characters Sakura and Ichinose. The second half, about hiding from ourselves…the question is who is that referring to? Ayanokoji? Horikita? Someone else?
Or is that phrase speaking to us?
As Classroom of the Elite moves into episode four, there’s a weird shift that’s happening. The episode begins in a different classroom with different students and a different teacher than we’ve ever seen before, and the show begins a new mini-arc, pushing us off the trail of the heaviness of last episode’s reveal. But certainly, Kushida’s genuine self is still fresh in our minds, and I could only think about the ugliness underneath her exterior every time she came on screen. There was a tension there, whether in my own mind or intentional, whenever she shared time with Ayanokoji, and it spoke to me asking, “How would I feel if I was Ayanokoji and knew what she really was?”
I know exactly how I would feel – I’d be disgusted, bitter, and angry. There’s a self-righteousness within me that would rise in thinking that this girl is playing with me and putting me under her thumb. But further, she would feel like garbage to me. She is someone so vile, scheming and deceiving while standing right next to me, even as she knows that I know. Yuck. Like literal garbage, I would be repelled, wanting to get away from her.
Have you ever had someone like that in your life, someone who is so obviously a person of poor morals but acts like she’s wonderful? I have. I’ve worked with a person like Kushida, and it always made me feel a little sick, as if I was catching some sort of deceitful contagion by being next to her. I didn’t want to be in the same room!
But Ayanokoji isn’t like me. We’re privy to some of his thoughts, but instead of this harsh judgment, he just analyzes, thinks, and even shows grace. But how can he do that when he was threatened by Kushida just days (the night?) before?
I wonder if it has something to do with the last half of that quote by La Rouchefoucauld: “We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves.” I wrote about how I preferred Horikita to Kushida because I felt she was truer to herself, which reminds me of how often I lack sincerity, with myself and with others. Like Jacob with Esau (and practically everyone else in his life), I’m a deceiver, too. I hide the my ugliness, the corruption I succumb to quite often, and instead show the world a better version of myself. I am Kushida – it’s just that the people around me might not know it.
So if Kushida is “garbage,” what does that make me?
Thankfully, something much more, but not because of who I am. It’s only because of that which changes everything – even the heart of a deceiver. It’s only because of the “last best word.” It’s only because of grace.
And because I stand on that, there’s hope, even for those of us who hide the truth from even ourselves.