A huge source of disdain has recently descended upon my feeble mind. What might that be, you may ask? That some people cannot help but place ideologies over other people.
I am a big fan of movies. One such movie is “Children of Men,” an Alfonso Cuar?n film. It tells the story of an apathetic protagonist who must cope with political catastrophes that surround him because the female population is infertile. On top of that, he must escort the first woman to be impregnated in 18 years to a mysterious research group known only as “The Human Project.”
One particular moment in the movie truly captures the essence of my opinion. In the midst of an intense battle that pitted the British government against refugee rebels (this battle was eerily reminiscent of the Polish resistance in World War II), the protagonist, the new mother and her “miraculous” child walk through a haze of bullets.
Suddenly, the shooting stops. The British officers and the rebels look at the baby, momentarily stunned. It’s a moment of unification; it is a bond. Yet, this bond isn’t forged from politics or war – this bond is forged from humanity, from nature: the birth of a child.
We, as humans, are interesting in that we subscribe to beliefs that often blind us from the spectacle of nature. These beliefs often shield us from the beauty and wonders of humanity. Throughout college, I can recall several acrimonious debates about the perils of socialism or the destructive nature of capitalism – or, perhaps, the misplaced values of atheists or evangelical zeal of Christians.
More often than not, a consensus was never reached. Disagreeing and agreeing parties both left as if their respective beliefs were reinforced. There is a danger in holding to ideologies that is subtle, yet very destructive.
That danger is their ability to shield us from reality, a danger that makes us see everything in light of our ideology. If you’re racist, you only see race in other people. If you are religious, you only see religion (or the lack thereof) in others. If you are sexist, you only see the gender of people.
Often times, ideologies highlight differences while shunning similarities. A person who is Christian is unlike a person who is Muslim or Buddhist. A person who is a resistance fighter is unlike a person who supports the status quo. A woman is different from a man.
These differences are often the source of conflict. A person with “white” skin has no reason to be upset at a person with “black” skin if he does not acknowledge a difference between the two. More importantly, a person’s “difference” is often portrayed as negative or subversive. In the movie “Children of Men,” one of the antagonists (Luke) views the main protagonist’s love interest (Jillian) as subversive and counterintuitive. As a result, according to Luke, Jillian had to die.
When one is portrayed in antagonistic terms, it’s very simple to just “get rid of them.” Hitler’s view of the Jews is an excellent case in point.
We must seek similarities. Humanity and nature provide those similarities. I might have a different skin color or a different eye color. But, in the end, I am human, as is the neo-Nazi who hates my guts for being black.
We were once children who were undeterred by meaningless ideological quibbles. If we need an example of serene unification, we needn’t look too far: a child at play is ample.