Some people, like Siren the Social Worker, are as elusive and attractive and maddening as butterflies. They flit around leaving havoc in their wake, totally unaware of their part in the damage. We all know people like that: bubbly, full of empty good intentions, fun to be with, enchanting, and always gone when we need them. Willing to help others — at somebody else’s expense. Offering to buy drinks for everybody, as long as it is on the house. It’s hard not to love Siren, not to be strung along by her, not to believe the empty rhetoric. But… the judgment day always comes, eventually.
The Debt Collector is a stage musical by the composer/lyricist team of Carter and Katz. The three songs embedded in this article are performed to great effect by vocalist Erin Royall Carlson. The music was recorded, mixed and mastered by Rick Long, of Salt Lake City, Utah.
It may be very easy to say that we love everyone, but when this philosophy is put into practice, the results can be disastrous, especially when love is forced on others — and is expressed by taking things away from one person to give to another. Whether it’s money or children, everyone has something that is of value to them. And everyone can be hurt by the application of this kind of “caring.”
What’s more, the word “love” has been stretched to cover any number of very different feelings. Yet even Siren learns to her dismay that what really attracts her is not necessarily an expression of impartial concern for her well being.
In the end, it is not the State or the Police or the purveyors of Public Love that save Sophie, the little girl who is held captive in the basement, from the deadly attempts to break her spirit by a person intent on adopting her and giving her “a better life” than she had with her very fallible, but nonetheless real parents. It is the Debt Collector who puts his life on the line, because he recognizes the rights of parents to raise their children are as important as the rights of landlords to receive the rent on time.
And eventually, even Siren learns how to apologize.
Today, we hear a lot about unconditional love and the need to forgive others even if they do not apologize. We are told we must forgive for our own sake — to end our own suffering — and that it does not matter if the wrongdoer has not repented or learned what he did wrong and is not ever planning to mend his ways. We encourage debtors to file for bankruptcy and victims to fawn over their molestors. In this kind of situation, even relatively well-intentioned people like Siren may never have learned how to apologize. The Debt Collector gives a detailed tutorial in musical form for those needing to learn how to say “I’m sorry.” The first step is taking responsiblity. The last step is recognizing that no one owes anyone else the duty to forgive.
True reconciliation between and among people in a community who want to live and work together is possible. But it can happen only if each person takes responsibility for his own actions. Some very beautiful things can follow. Even genuine love — the kind that is grounded in reality! Good friends like Blood and Siren might even share a big juicy steak.