Friday, May 19, 2006

Paradise Now

A sad movie last night, Bush. "Paradise Now." It's the story of two young Palestinian men who aspire to be suicide bombers. I say "aspire to" because that, at the beginning of the movie, seems to be their ardent desire. There's a double edge to the operative word in the title. On the one hand, it's an ironic reference to the hell in which they live now, here on earth, in "occupied" territory--I presumed in the Gaza Strip. On the other, it's the paradise they have been promised by their faith and by the cynical, calculating bunch of politically motivated terrorists who are their handlers.

The film could have gone in either of two wrong directions. It could have gone overboard in the direction of the terrorists, devolving into an anti-Israel screed. Or it could have gone the other way, portraying the two young men as monsters. But no, it did neither of these things, and therein lies the secret of its success. It took an observant middle path, allowing us a glimpse into the tortured mind of the suicide bombers, particularly Said--a young man from a destitute family, whose father had been killed by his own people as a collaborator when he was ten years old, and who had suffered mightly from the perceived humiliation and hopelessness of life in a land considered stolen by the Israelis.

A poignant story, Bush, and one which had a lot to say about the terrible impasse in that region, where good people on both sides seems trapped between victimhood and violent aggression. It neither approves the violence nor condemns those who see no other way than to practice it--although it gives forceful voice to both views in the conflict between its characters and the inner conflict of its protagonist. The movie stands back just enough to allow us, as viewers, our own judments. Its own wisdom is to exercise remarkable compassion.

Busy day today, Bush. I'm still waiting for those final, final, final proofs of "The Real Bush Diaries," and Ellie and I are leading a group tour of current exhibits at the museum. See you later.

14 comments:

denn said...

I saw that thoughtful film too.
Eric Hoffer had many ideas on the subject:
Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.
It is not love of self but hatred of self which is at the root of the troubles that afflict our world.
There is a guilty conscience behind every brazen word and act and behind every manifestation of self-righteousness.
The craving to change the world is perhaps a reflection of the craving to change ourselves.
There are many who find the burdens, the anxiety, and the isolation of an individual existence unbearable. His is particularly true when the opportunities for self-advancement are relatively meager, and one's individual interests and prospects do not seem worth living for. Such persons sooner or later turn their backs on an individual existence and strive to acquire a sense of worth and a purpose by an identification with a holy cause, a leader, or a movement. The faith and pride they derive from such an identification serve them as substitutes for the unattainable self-confidence and self-respect.
The frustrated follow a leader less because of their faith that he is leading them to a promised land than because of their immediate feeling that he is leading them away from their unwanted selves.
A doctrine insulates the devout not only against the realities around them but also against their own selves. The fanatical believer is not conscious of his envy, malice, pettiness and dishonesty. There is a wall of words between his consciousness and his real self.

Anonymous said...

Yes, interesting movie. However, I support all resistance fighters and am against ALL foreign invaders and occupiers. Both sides can make justifications regarding their actions; however, one should look at their actions, not their words. People speak words in different languages, with different meanings, in different cultures, with different intentions. Actions, provide a better description of a given scenario.

I will always support a people who have been invaded and occupied by a foreign force. In this case, the force is similar to Nazi Germany, KKK Clansman or South African Apartheid supporters; whereby, a racist state exists to separate the races and oppress/dominate the so-called inferior race. With mass media manipulation all racist organizations can exist for a time until the illusion is shattered or the oppressed are slaughtered and buried.

In regards to giving ones life for an ideology, every country and people brainwash their citizens to give their lives for their country. Every man who fights in a military type organization is willing to give his life for their comrades or the greater good. It is a very powerful and life affirming way to live, to be prepared to give your life for a greater good. Part of the human condition I think, will always be with us. In America, soldiers are told the value of the Medal of Honor and the stories of those who have given their lives for it. The heroism, to fight for your brothers and country.

In closing, all invaders and occupiers are violating international law and basic human morality in pursuit of an evil ideology at the expense of the native population. Speaking to the movie at hand, a recent Israeli poll conducted by “The 2006 Israeli Democracy Index” found that 62% of respondents want the government to pursue policies in order to persuade (wonder what the word PURSUADE means) the 1.3 million Arabs, who account for about one- fifth of the population, to leave Israel. In other words, they want a pure racist state just like the other racist organizations of the past, Nazi Germany, KKK, South African Apartheid.

Amazing how the mass media of USA can brainwash 300 million people to support an evil/hateful ideology called Zionism and provide daily justification for it through manipulation of the facts and flat out lies. Creating empathy for one human and hate for another.

denn said...

"affirming way to live" ? All MEN WHO USE COURAGE DO SO TO FILL THE VOID WITHIN THEMSELVES, PERIOD. Self sacrifice is a hell of a lot easier than self realization. They are actually weak, not strong, Think about it.

Since when are 300 million Americans brainwashed? Preposterous belief. Been there, rejected that. Go to a later page, my young man.

PK said...

Both Dennis and Anon. have excellent talking points. Anon., I believe a whole lot of what you say:). Peter, I don't know if you saw the PBS special here about a year ago, the one where they spoke to the women on both sides. I was uplifted to know that they really have nothing against each other, as they have never formally met their neighbors. A few spoke of the other woman being no different from herself. A few weren't sure what to say, and then there were the staunch ones, not willing to see a way...but few. I hope it comes on again, it would be good to see one more time. The other special was on the teaching of young people on how to get along, through science class:). It seemed to work, by the time the outdoor adventure was over, they were all speaking to one another, even joking around and asking where they lived so they could see them again. If one has the right teachers, anything is possible:D! To bad our government is so closed minded and willing to back only one nation, the other can't fathom it either. I'm sure there are many who wonder what 'Christian' means when Bush says it...

Anonymous said...

“All MEN WHO USE COURAGE DO SO TO FILL THE VOID WITHIN THEMSELVES, PERIOD. “ Wonder if Denn has a family, of course he has/had parents, in which he would be willing to fight to the death for if someone came into their home/city/country to do harm. Not an easy thing to sit back and watch someone abuse or kill your wife, children, neighbors or others you care about. When you serve in a military unit or a war Zone, such as Gaza, you become closer to your fellow comrades then your family members. To be willing to die for the man next to you and know without hesitation that he will do the same is a powerful bond and can be very life affirming. Has nothing to do with “filling a void” but rather being placed in a situation that you must survive or help others survive.

The Invaders & Occupiers have a choice to travel tens/hundreds/thousands of miles to commit their immoral actions; however, the Natives are forced to survive by any means possible including the giving of ones life for fellow humans. Not a void but survival my friend.

Denn said “Since when are 300 million Americans brainwashed?” Well, when I walk down the beach, I see every women covering her breasts while men walk around bare chested. When I walk down the street I see people eating cows but not dogs. Culture is mass brainwashing. Maybe 300 million Americans are not brainwashed regarding the racist Zionist ideology, maybe it is 250 million. Point being, masses can be brainwashed very easily to hate one human over another. Just as Nazism brainwashed a large part of that society, American masses have been brainwashed to support a racist state called Israel. Sometimes truth hurts and people would rather live in denial. As an American, it is not nice to have to support the Iraqi resistance/freedom fighters but I will not change my morals just because my country/people commits a crime. Integrity is a special act, not just a word.

denn said...

Anon. You don't have to change your morals. You have to think more clearly. The effects you seek are not wrong, it's the approach you take that needs more clarity, more depth, more understanding. There are many mistakes in what you say. Watch out for simplistic formulas, untangle your logic. Re-examine your thinking carefully. Don't be afraid of perplexity, Don't try to be all-knowing. Use modes that are open to discussion, not argument. Your point of view is not convincing, even though the problems you identify are valid. Remember this, a mistake made in all heated debate, PASSION AND REASON CANNOT EXIST SIDE BY SIDE.

Anonymous said...

Denn. We do agree more then not. We just see things slightly differently due to our own experiences. After all, we are simply made up of our own individual personal experiences during our lifetime. My understanding is based on my experiences in life. Courage and self defense are realities of life when one is threatened with death by an invader or occupier. Simplistic approaches do not take into account the desire/legitimacy of human survival.

Yes, many times invaders and occupiers use their murderous intent to fill a personal void, enforce an immoral ideology or simply to follow a strong male animal with their own personal ambitions; much like a pack of dogs will follow their strong male leader.

I will try not to be "all knowing" and simply voice my opinion based on my unique experiences in life.

I hope others can do the same and respect my experiences. One should try not to attack by using the word "You" so often. "You" is a word that is typically banished in all civil negotiations to end conflict. It is usually a word of attack that one uses to elevate their self importance over another or to simply denigrate another.

dennis said...

Anon. I agree.

PeterAtLarge said...

Thanks for this discussion, all. My own thinking is that we need to learn to hold difficult and often contradictory thoughts simultaneously in our minds and let go of that very human need to be right. I know there's a lot in my own thinking that's simply irresolvable--and I'm sometimes very uncomfortable with that. But if I can embrace the paradox without going crazy, I feel I'm better off. Best of everything to all, PaL

dennis said...

Excellent Peter. While many things will never see reoslution, there is one that is clear and must be resolved, The Endless Cycle of Violence. The source of this is in the heart of each man. Each man must put a stop to his own violence no matter what.
And one lesson on the path to a change in each heart might be to remember this: A war is not won if the defeated enemy has not been turned into a friend.

Anonymous said...

Yes, excellent comments Peter, and you to Denn. Sorry to have ranted a little regarding Israel; that and the way Bush invaded Iraq are 2 things I have a lot of trouble dealing with. Why can't I put those behind me as I do the other 19+ wars currently inflicting the world?:) I guess because I see complicity on my part with funding through taxes and living in a country that actively/arrogantly supports these 2 internationally recognized crimes. And, as Peter rightly says "the human need to be right". Yet, we all acknowledge that there are certain right and wrong ways of treating others? Frustrating Paradox to try and solve.

Question. While we all understand, theoretically, that "The Endless Cycle of Violence" must stop with each individuals refusal to commit violence, would not that simply leave the uninitiated to kill unimpeded and take what they want. Can you, in reality, rationally discuss non-violence with an invader/occupier who is driven by passion, ideology, racism or murderous zeal? Is non-violence a successful way to survive and live to see another day when confronted with immediate death and destruction? I like the concept but is this a theoretic goal, which may not survive when applied to the "real world"? Will those not willing to fight, survive to pass along their genes and culture? Not sure if any type of pacifism can survive the brutal realties of driven men. In the end, are not pacifists eventually protected by others willing to threaten or apply force in their defense? Honestly curious.

dennis said...

Peter. I don't need to say, there are answers and resolutions. I don't think we have to live with Nihilism and chaos and doubt. And,
I don't believe retaliation and freedom fighting is the only option. I would point out the examples of Ghandi, Martin Luther King, and especially Lao Tsu.
But, I am not a pacifist. If fighting it must be, I would point you Winston Churchill and our own Jack Kennedy. Kennedy had the strength to stand up to a threat, but he also had the wisdom to open a channel of reconciliation. Few young people know how close we came to nuclear war and how he and Bobby averted it.
Jews have had their doors bashed in by Nazis. Nazis have had their doors bashed by Americans. Muslims have bashed the doors of Jews. Jews have bashed the doors of muslims. Muslims have bashed the doors of Americans. And Americans are bashing the doors of Muslims. And opportunists have been making money on all of this door bashing throughout the whole of history. Yes, money profiteering is involved in the Palestinian movement, as it is in Iraq. The same deal, hate for dollars.
And who do the profiteers owe this vast exchange of funds? Propagandists, corrupt leaders, freedom fighters, and war machines. And why do men volunteer to become cannon fodder? Because they don't have what it takes to break the cycle of lies, and fears. They don't have the strength in their minds. They don't have the guts to stop it.
We cannot engage in a discussion of ending violence by picking up the argument at the street level of fighting. Sure a man is going to protect his home. You can bet I will.
However, we must examine and fathom how things got that far. Policy. Usually it is policy, local, regional, international. And what affects bad policies that lead to violence? Poor participation by the average person. Ignorant people deserve the leadership they get, in most cases, not always. But in the cases we are talking about, yes.
Ghandi understood this. But did he use his enormous charisma to marshall a fighting force to rid India of the British? No. He chose not to take that road. And he succeeded. King, same story, he gave blacks a peaceful option to The Panthers. There are others.
Have you ever wondered how Switzerland has managed to stay nuetral in the middle of so many wars? Because they are smart individuals!
I could go on all night to make a case against violence. But it basically comes down to a few essentials. If one would go the the top of this column and comprehend the words I posted of Eric Hoffer, one could grasp, how struggles stem directly from individuals, men, usually. One paricularly brilliant sentence is, "It is not love of self but hatred of self which is at the root of the troubles that afflict our world". The cycle of violence stems from a cycle of ignorance. The enlightened man puts his feet firmly in the ground and says "no more". I don't call that pacificism. Goethe, a German, said, "if each man would clean his own doorstep, the world would be put in order".
Goethe, of course, is widely considered to have been much smarter than the average nazi sympathizer.
When I hear talk of rallying the boys to go kick some ass, I react as a thinking individual. not as a joiner, and one of the dog pack. Americans who have forgone their individualness are sorry Americans. One must think for himself and forgo the usual path.
There are a couple Mel Gibson movies that depict the Reluctant Warrior. The reluctant warrior is a defender, and he knows the folly of war. He doesn't go around drumming up others. If death comes to his door, he is prepared. But he does not join Special Forces to go kill gooks in faraway places for politicians. (That's for the weak, like Lieutenant Calley in Vietnam). He sees the fulility of that. Niether does he strap on explosives and walk into a restaurant. Military men who think blowing up shit is cool are slow learners when it comes to being used and exploited by war profiteers. No matter what race or religion.
if one wants to change things. Do it politically, peacefully. and while you're doing, learn stuff. Learn how Ghandi did it. Learn history so you don't make the same mistakes. By the time I was seventeen, I learned history. I said, hell no, I won't support the billionaires at Bell helicopter and Lockheed.
Churchill, and WWII was the only just war in recent memory. A pox on all those who support any other kind of war. Palestine is not like WWII. Most Americans believe that both parties in that conflict are nuts. Five US presidents have told them again and again, they have to stop hating. Clinton brought them to the brink of peace. But they couldn't give up the money or their egos. Arafat got rich on that conflict as did the others.
All right, enough is enough,
"Speak softly and carry a big stick". Teddy Roosevelt

Anonymous said...

See Denn, we agree on so much yet our personal experiences keep us apart.

“Sure a man is going to protect his home. You can bet I will.” AGREE

“The reluctant warrior is a defender, and he knows the folly of war.” AGREE

“Jews have had their doors bashed in by Nazis.” AGREE

“Muslims have bashed the doors of Jews. Jews have bashed the doors of muslims. Muslims have bashed the doors of Americans. And Americans are bashing the doors of Muslims.” AGREE/DISAGREE. THE ORDER OF MODERN HISTORY IS NOT RIGHT. JEWS INVADED PALESTINE TO SET UP A RACIST SOCIETY, NOT THE OTHER WAY. AMERICANS HAVE INSTALLED AND ARMED DICTATORS TO SUPPORT OUR RAPE OF RESOURCES IN SAUDI ARABIA, IRAN, KUWAIT, PAKISTAN ect... MUSLIMS HAVE UNDERSTANDABLY REACTED TO THIS EVIL ACTION. KARMA IS A BITCH.

“By the time I was seventeen, I learned history. “ AS DID I BUT IT HAPPENED TO BE WESTERN/AMERICAN HISTORY TO SUPPORT OUR VERSION OF EVENTS. ALWAYS WANTED TO READ A VIETNAMESE HIGH SCHOOL HISTORY BOOK TO SEE HOW THEIR CHILDREN ARE TAUGHT HISTORICAL EVENTS. REMEMBER, ACADEMIA AND REALITY ARE VERY OFTEN AT A LOSS TO DESCRIBE WHAT THE INDIVIDUAL PARTICIPANTS EXPERIENCED. READING A BOOK AND PONDERING THINGS IS DIFFERENT THEN EXPERIENCING ACTUAL EVENTS IN REAL LIFE WHEREBY ONE MUST MAKE SURVIVAL DECISIONS IN SPLIT SECONDS, NOT TAKING HOURS TO PONDER AN EVENT THAT HAPPENED 40 YEARS AGO WHILE SITTING IN SAFETY AND PEACE.

“I said, hell no, I won't support the billionaires at Bell helicopter and Lockheed.” THIS IS MY PROBLEM TODAY BECAUSE MY MONEY IS SUPPORTING MUCH MORE THEN JUST THEM RIGHT NOW.

“Military men who think blowing up shit is cool are slow learners when it comes to being used and exploited by war profiteers. No matter what race or religion.” AGREE

“Most Americans believe that both parties in that conflict are nuts.” WHAT IS HILARIOUS IS THAT MOST AMERICANS DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT BOTH PARTIES ARE SEMITES. THE TERM ANTI-SEMITE IS AN IGNORANT TERM USED BY ONE SIDE TO QUICKLY END INTELLIGENT DEBATE THROUGH WILD ACCUSATIONS. ONE CAN BE AGAINST ZIONIST POLICIES AND NOT PEACEFUL JEWS. JUST AS ONE CAN BE AGAINST THE KKK WITHOUT BEING AGAINST ALL WHITE PEOPLE.

“Palestine is not like WWII.” EVERY INDIVIDUAL HUMAN BEING WHO IS BEING INVADED AND THEIR PROPERTY CONQUERED/ DESTROYED OR THEIR LIFE THREATENED DENIGRATED, WHETHER THEY ARE POLISH, RUSSIAN, NORWEGIAN or PALESTINIAN IS LIVING IN THE SAME HELL AS THE OTHER. THE NAME/DATE/SIZE OF THE ARMED CONFLICT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT. THE BELIEF THAT A COUNTRY IS LIMITED TO PEOPLE OF A CERTAIN RACE OR RELIGION AND ALL OTHERS MUST BE REMOVED/RUN OUT TO CREATE ROOM FOR ONES PERSONAL RACIST IDEOLOGY IS PURE EVIL; Germany wanted Poland for future growth and Israel continues to take Palestinian land for future growth. NO IFS ANDS OR BUTS. SPADE IS A SPADE. TO QUOTE SOMEONE RECENTLY “Sure a man is going to protect his home. You can bet I will” THERE ARE CURRENTLY 4 MILLION PALESTINIAN REFUGEES WHO HAVE BEEN RUN OFF THEIR LAND, ACCORDING TO THE UN, AND ISRAEL CONTINUES TO EXPAND THE CONFISCATION OF PALESTINIAN LAND AND THE BUILDING OF SETTLEMENTS ON PALESTINIAN LAND. THE REMAINING PALESTINIANS ARE FIGHTING WITH THE ONLY THING THEY HAVE, HUMAN FLESH & BONE PLUS A LITTLE TNT. THEY ARE LIVING IN MISERABLE GUETTOS JUST LIKE THE GERMANS PUSHED THE JEWS INTO. Against international law, these palestinian refugees have been forbidden to return to their homes by a Racist ideology that seeks a pure jewish state on this occupied land. At no time in modern history has it been right to remove a native population from their land. Any who seek to justify this action should look inward to what is causing/justifying this racial hatred of elevating one human over another.

All wars are a series of small battles in which 1 side is the aggressor through invasion and occupation, while another is the defender/resister. One decides to take from another and one decides to stand and fight for his property or family. To add more evil to the scenario is when 1 side can use the true weapons of terror, Jets & Tanks, to casually prowl an defenseless resisters home/neighborhood in complete safety to kill at will. The scariest scenario, in my mind, is when one side can invade/occupy another and not have any casualties due to their complete mastery over another. In that case, there is NO deterrence to invading another, since humans will continue to do things until there are consequences inflicted upon them. That is the sad part of the Arabs in the Middle East. Thus far, they have not been able to bloody the nose of USA/Israeli invaders to gain respect for their existence as humans. Both will continue to take land & resources until Arabs can stand and repel us. USA will never invade Vietnamese, Koreans, Russians because they can inflict heavy casualties on us. Maybe in 200 years we will forget the lessons of the past and repeat the mistake of invasion on these people or we will believe that we have created an impenetrable killing machine that will enable us to wage war in a “cheap, casualty free on our part” scenario.

Furthermore, in a democracy there are no innocent civilians, as we are both our government and all its actions. A democratic people cannot forfeit their responsibilities and claim innocence when they are the creators of a murderous government policy through democratic means;whether this action is the arming and supporting of Dictators, Racist Countries or the invaders of another country. The only innocent civilians are those in a dictatorship. Funny how Israel wants to punish/starve the Palestinian civilians for electing Hamas yet any harm to Israeli civilians for the actions of their government is forbidden. Ignorance & duplicity at its highest. What more can you expect from one who calls other Semites, Anti-Semetic? Doublespeak at its finest.

The resister is labeled terrorist if he looses and others wright history, or a freedom fighter if he wins and gets to wright history. Any label applied “TODAY” is simply made from the side one stands on, the invaders side or the resisters side. If USA were to loose WWII, the act we committed with nuclear weapons against 100% civilians would have condemned us to the hells of history as terrorists (not a freedom fighting act to end a war started by an invasion of US territory) and Hitlers death camps would have been written off as a consequence/necessity of a just war to create 1000 years of peace. Winners wright history.

FOR SOME HUMOR Goethe, a German, said, "if each man would clean his own doorstep, the world would be put in order". IS THIS NOT SIMILAR TO WHAT BUSH MEANS “PULL YOURSELF UP BY YOUR BOOTSTRAPS”? OHH THAT HURTS!!!!!!!!

Yes, Peter, we are still trying to make the other understand we are “Right”. That and we have way to much time on our hands.

PK said...

WOW!!! I've sat here for over a half hour reading and rereading all of this. Anon., you hit the nail on the head. I have an acquaintance who thinks as you. I enjoy reading his words too:). Thank you both for a very informative late afternoon:).