There’s an odd scene in Final Fantasy VIII, when you go visit the Shumi village…
Elder’s Attendant: The Elder will not present you with a gift.
Elder: For your services, it gives me great pleasure to present you this.
(The village Elder outstretches his arm to you, open his hand and exposes his palm…it’s empty.)
Elder’s Attendant: Umm…Elder, Attendant is having a hard time seeing it.
(The Elder moves closer.)
(If Zell is in your party:) Zell: What is it…?
(If Rinoa is in your party…) Rinoa: …there’s nothing there.
Squall: …? What the…? I don’t see anything…
Elder’s Attendant: …Ahh, isn’t it amazing!? When he holds something in his palm, you cannot even see it. Such is the power of the person who has attained eldership.
What is he talking about? And how can we make sense of this? Well, have you ever read the Gospel According to Thomas? The Gospel According to Thomas is an early Christian non-canonical sayings-gospel. Many scholars believe these sayings provide insight into the oral gospel traditions. Almost half of these sayings resemble those found in the Canonical Gospels.
In the Gospel According to Thomas, Jesus seems to talk about seeking something. That something is only something you know when you see it but is the objective reality of all existence.
Jesus said, “Recognize what is in your sight, and that which is hidden from you will become plain to you. For there is nothing hidden which will not become manifest.”
So when the village elder outstretches his arm to you, open his hand and exposes his palm…you’re know exactly what you should receive. But…
Squall: So, what’s the gift?
Elder Attendant: …what else…The honor of seeing his hand. These great hands have shoveled the earth! These great hands have created wonders! These great hands justify his eldership! We are proud to send you off with this gift. Do stop by again. Good day.
Does Squall know what the gift is? It’s a completely subjective process to find the objective. As Squall explains:
Squall: …I think it was true. He’s kept his hands concealed since we met him. Judging from this place, they’re pretty advanced, so they can’t be stupid. They probably new that the silly hand thing wasn’t going to impress us. They sincerely admire Laguna, so they wanted to treat us kindly, since we know him. They’re kind gesture just came out weird, that’s all. But at least they tried. I think overall, it was a decent, heartfelt welcome.
I think Squall got it. It’s projection, and self-analysis. Squall keeps to himself, and he’s pretty competent so he can’t be stupid. He knows that being gregarious isn’t going to impress anyone. He sincerely cares about people, but standoffish. His personality just comes off as weird, that’s all. But at least he tried. Overall, I think he’s trying.
Squall: Funny, the Elder humbly concealed his hands. NORG on the other hand showed them off.
Jesus said, “Whoever finds the world and becomes rich, let him renounce the world.”
NORG couldn’t do this. NORG is a wealthy Shumi, but unlike his humble, goodnatured brethren, NORG is proud, selfish, and cowardly. He ignores the Shumi custom of concealing hands, displaying his proudly. He’s the tribe’s “black sheep”. He couldn’t renounce the world. NORG was looking for that something but couldn’t find it. He was looking for it through material possessions and ownership.