Friday, September 4, 2009

The Reader

I watched this alone while Dwaine and the boys went out to get flu shots and shop. Though it started out very erotic, it was not a good warm, fuzzy movie to cuddle up with! It wound up being so very sad and personal. It was like a detailed study of the devastation of a man's life because of the Holocaust. He wasn't involved in it, but its rippling effects overtook his life. Those ripples continue for so long after an event of such proportion, caused by humans. I understand why Buddhism speaks of karma, good or bad. Nothing is lost. We live in a closed system. The violence done to so many shakes the very fabric of the Earth and it takes generations to overcome, like slavery.

I heard on NPR about the children of raped women of the Rwanda genocide who are now growing up. Their lives are scarred, and they and their families are treated as outcasts. How can Rwanda overcome its recent violent past, which happened the year Austin was born?

The unanswerable question in these cases is, how? There is a capacity in human nature for incredible violence and evil, and it lies in every single person. It Lies, indeed it does. No one is exempt; we must each stand guard over ourselves and others.

This movie, the Reader, was about an SS guard who happened to be played by the incredibly beautiful Kate Winslet, and the violence she did to others, including a boy my son's age. Just a touch unbelievable that someone so gorgeous could do these things? But why do people who commit atrocities have to be ugly? The character actually took a bit of time to try to explain how she interpreted doing her duty. It might involve the wholesale slaughter of prisoners, as happened in an accidental fire in a church that the guards kept locked so none of the prisoners escaped, but burned alive. But none died by her own hand and nobody escaped.

I appreciated the moral complexity of the story. No one is purely good or evil, and motives are always suspect.

1 comment:

  1. Did not see the movie but read the book - it is quite haunting, isn't it? I'm so happy to see you blogging so much! I'm a faithful reader :) You're on my blog roll and i have it set so that the blogs that are updated turn up first.


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