By Jeremy Smith
The 2012 science fiction film Cloud Atlas journeys through six different time periods and the struggles for justice or mere survival in each of them. One of the time periods is in 1849, years before the breakout of the American Civil War. The son-in-law of a wealthy businessman in America is sent overseas to conclude a business arrangement to transport slaves from Africa.
The son-in-law is transformed when he witnesses brutality done to the slaves and his life is saved by a slave on the trip home. He returns to his partner and confronts his father-in-law, stating that he renounces the slave trade and will join the abolitionists. They have the following exchange:
Father-in-Law: There is a natural order to this world, and those who try to upend it do not fare well. This movement will never survive, if you join them you and your entire family will be shunned. At best you will exist at pariah to be spat at and beaten, at worse to be lynched or crucified. And for what, for what? No matter what you do it will never amount to anything more than a single drop in a limitless ocean.
Son-in-Law: But what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?