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Two movies, one subject

3 July 2012

I watched two movies recently about concentration camps. One of them was terrible and ugly; the other was terrible and beautiful.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas made me feel sick to my stomach. We had to turn it off halfway through and watch the rest the next day, and even then, I almost turned it off a second time. It ended and I felt nothing but disgust at the world.

La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful) made me feel depressed but hopeful. There was beauty in that film, and it showed people being as lovingly human as I have ever seen.

But still, it makes me question the idea S. and I coined recently that the right things happen for the right reasons–meaning that everything that happens is right in happening that way. If that were true, the things in these films wouldn’t have happened, but they did, in real life, many years ago.

I said that to S. after watching the second movie and she said the world learned from those events, and nothing like it will ever happen again. But things like that do still happen. Not to the same extent, to such a large number of people and not nearly as many people are convinced that it’s the right thing to do, but people are held against their will and mistreated all the time for political reasons, and in some countries, this happens in mass amounts and then many of them are also killed off.

It actually makes me feel sick to even type that.

So, what do I do about it? I can’t ignore it, but to really let it in and feel it would be overwhelming.

In the latest issue of The Sun Magazine, I read a quote that struck me: “I often stay away from the news and then feel guilty for not participating in the larger theater of the world. But if I see those images, I’ll feel a responsibility to do something about them, and I can’t, except perhaps to send money. I’m left feeling powerless.”

That’s how I feel. Except then the person she’s interviewing responds, “Yes, powerless, but there are answers. Gary Snyder says, when something strikes you–whether it’s a hungry child, or the death of a fish, or the cutting of a forest, or the warming of the air–take that particular thing and enter into it. Learn about the salmon, about the Indian myths surrounding it, about the whole life cycle of the fish. Through your learning you develop sympathy, and you become an expert. You pick one place where your heart can connect to the world’s problems. We can’t just say, ‘This is too much. I can’t bear it.'”

I like his idea of taking what strikes you and delving into it, learning about it, letting it become real instead of just some faraway idea or image of bad things happening in the world, and then if nothing else, you connect with it and understand it. Or maybe not understand, but are knowledgeable about it. You have acknowledged it instead of ignoring it.

I guess that’s the best that I can do.

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