Monday, February 26, 2007

A Movie Made Me Think

***Just my thoughts… and I am sure you will agree or disagree… that’s fine. I am not here to argue – just stating an opinion. It is fine to agree to disagree.***

Friday night I watched a movie I should have seen years ago, thanks to Netflix, I have been trying to catch up. I am not sure why it has taken me so long to watch this movie… I have a burning love for Edward Norton, but I believe the skin head and swastika probably turned me off. Hate is probably on the top of my list of things “not” to buy into, and this movie just screamed it… or so I thought…

I won’t lie, watching American History X, my stomach turned. This is an excellent movie, not because I have the same beliefs in racism and hate, but it shows how much we are a product of our environment. How vulnerable we are in our teen years, and how easily we are molded. It’s not all about racism, either. This movie also touches on immigration and affirmative action. The characters are extremely intelligent and argue their beliefs quite convincingly.

This movie also shows how hate is passed down - learned, from father to son, from older brother to younger. Edward Norton’s character is a role model for his younger brother, played by Ed Furlong, who is sure to follow in his brother’s footsteps. Although the father is not as extreme, racism is racism. Hate is all lumped into one broad word, and whether you like it or not, a little or a lot, it’s still hate.

There is one thing that burns in my mind from this movie; the quote: “Has anything you’ve done made YOUR life better?”

Think about it.

Why do we spend so much time thinking about the past? Why does it matter what happened to your or my people 100s of years ago? Why can’t we just live now? Let’s stop focusing on what happened, and start redirecting our attention to what’s happening — Work together to take care of other issues that really need our attention. Redirect that hate into something productive… to make our “Now” better… for us and our families for years to come.

Another issue that comes to mind, that screams hate, and most of you are guilty of thinking it - immigration. Every night on the news they talk about it here in Arizona. Every day I hear people complaining about immigrants coming thru our borders… I know at one time… your families were immigrants too. They may have not spoken the native language, but thy came here to try to better their family… they came here so YOU would have opportunities that they didn’t have. I understand that you’re tired of people coming over illegally, that this somehow affects your opportunities. Well get motivated, educate yourself, take advantage of the opportunities that are given you, and quit complaining about what this or that person has. What good is it if you sit there complaining about something being taken away from you… if you actually had no interest in attaining it to begin with… to complain for the sake of complaining.

I can’t solve the world problems… I can’t make you change your mind if you are dead set of hating someone or something. But until you have been in that situation yourself… until you know the circumstances involved… until it’s you that is on the table being prosecuted for trying to better your family - you will never understand.

Let me suggest to you Double Es… Education and Empathy. You may be intelligent, and you may think you know everything there is to know about a subject such as immigration, but do you know the individuals involved? Do you know why they risked everything to come here? Do you know their family members… their moms, dads, children? Do you know the circumstances surrounding the risks? Empathy is basically placing yourself in the shoes of the other person and trying to understand what it is like to be that person… how it would feel if that was my family. What would I be willing to do for my family?

OH Man… you got me on a rant, and here I was just talking about a good movie.

Back to movies… there is another excellent movie out there with such subtleties you might not even realize it’s about hate… Pleasantville. I adore this movie - it is so full of symbolism it gives me goose bumps. I know it sounds ridiculous - a movie where the characters get sucked into an old black and white TV show, but this movie is incredible. The characters go through so many changes, which most of the town fear, and they get color… which leads to segregation. The experience things they have never felt before… they learn things they are surprised even existed, and they love. Being prosecuted by the townspeople for being different… sound familiar? All but the two main characters, started out in black and white but most eventually evolve into color.

Pleasantville shows that we are all human and we all experience things on different levels… we have emotions and are capable of love as well as hate, but it’s up to the individual as to how he or she interprets them.

Bottom line is that we should try to forget the things done to us in the past that make us hold a grudge against a person or a whole race of people. More than likely these original people involved aren’t even in the picture anymore… why should we carry a burden that isn’t ours? Why can’t we start fresh today and work together towards a common goal… even if that goal is just to make our lives better for years to come… to live free of hate and focus on our own families instead of bitching about everyone else.

Just my thoughts… and I am sure you will agree or disagree… that’s fine. I am not here to argue – just stating an opinion. It is fine to agree to disagree.


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