Monday, August 4, 2008

the tower of...

maybe i get too emotionally attached to certain movies, but i just finished watching one that is causing some deep thoughts.

i just watched "Babel", staring brad pitt (amongst others). it's the story of loneliness, of connection, and of simply being human. there's one scene in particular that stands out for me. brad pitt's on-screen wife was shot by random gunfire while they are in calcutta. one of the locals extends his help as he assists them in taking them to his village to find a doctor & help in any way he can. it's a picture of what we americans would think of as destitute. dirt floors, ramshackle housing and the like. but for this culture it's normal & nothing to be ashamed of. as brad's wife, a little later, is about to be taken away via helicopter by the u.s. embassy, brad offers money in appreciation to his friend. he turns it down. not because he didn't need it, but because (i think) he didn't want to turn what he just did out of friendship into something as meaningless as a commodity. something that can simply be bought, sold or traded. this was far deeper than that.

and it struck me. this is what it means to be human. willingly extending your resources, no matter how limited, to to someone else without asking for something in return.

another part of the plot happens in japan. there is a daughter of a wealthy businessman who is struggling with loneliness, and simply trying to connect & find meaning in the wake of her mother's suicide. the movie ends with her embracing her dad on the balcony of their (at least) 30 story penthouse. as they hug, the camera pans away, revealing more and more of the city skyline. the blinking lights of immense skyscrapers, the hum of a major metropolitan city. it made me think of how easy it is it get lost in the whirling sea of humanity around us, and how it is so easy to feel alone in the middle of a crowd. which is exactly what happened to her earlier in the movie. it was interesting how that came to mind as the camera stopped focusing only on the father & daughter and moved out to more & more of the city.

it also makes me think, how do we find meaning & truth in our own lives in the midst of 300 billion+ people on this planet. my only answer is you need to focus on the community around you and be human to them.

this is a movie that wonderfully displays how connected our planet really is. it involved 4 different cultures. mexican, mideastern, american and asian. it doesn't take a whole lot of further thought to realize how they came up with the name for the movie, "Babel".


GadflyGimp said...

I have to admit that I haven't seen this yet, but I'm eagerly awaiting to do just that after reading this. Very awesome stuff, bro.

I think that the need to be part of something bigger than our iPods are a huge element of being human in nature and part of God's plan. I however, admit that I am often just as at fault for delving into my own cocoon of comfort as opposed to branching out and reaching out to others.

I saw an ad in a phonebook back when you and i were in high school. I don't remember if it was a PSA sponsored by some corporation or the phonebook was just filling space... but it essentially said something along the lines of "in America, you don't have to volunteer. In America, you don't have to donate money to help others. In America, you don't have to do ANYTHING to help ANYONE." I know that it's contrived and cheesy, but I've often felt that I had a haunting truth behind it.

ourpjlife said...

i think you're right. there is a haunting truth behind it. we live in a very sheltered society where we've been brainwashed into thinking we only need to be concerned about those immediately around us...& sometimes not even that.

i saw an ad for the discover card recently that bothered me. the voice-over said something to the effect of "we live in a consumeristic culture, and that's OK".

that bothered me, because what that's really saying is "go ahead & get yourself in a butt-load of debt so we can make monstrous profits from your financial irresponsibility". it's also saying having lots of unnecessary stuff is completely fine. no wonder other cultures don't like us.