Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Disparate worlds

On Sunday, I went to a friend's house and had a big turkey dinner. It was to make up for not having a Christmas feast. The tree was still up, and the company was lively. I was never a huge fan of turkey, but it was perfect for dispelling the mid-winter blues. Amongst the guests was a man who had just returned to Canada from Afghanistan. He is a biologist who was there to help with national park-planning in an area devastated by the Taliban. To me, the occasion was more of a Thanksgiving. I was grateful for the warmth within and the beauty without, while on the other side of the world, a nation tries to pick up the pieces after decades of terror.

A friend dubbed me a couple of DVD's – Babel and Blood Diamond – and delivered them to my house with a large bag of my favourite cheesies. I absolutely adored Babel. It showed how disparate our experiences truly are, yet how universal loss is. Have not gotten through Blood Diamond yet. Somehow, the opening minutes of the horrors of civil war in Sierra Leone were just too much for me to take alone. I'll have to invite someone over to watch the film with me. I've seen plenty of blood and gore in movies, but sometimes, for reasons unbeknownst to me, certain films strike an emotional chord. I remember watching The Killing Fields in Social Studies class in high school: I was fine, until I went to my next class. In the middle of English class, I completely lost it and broke down uncontrollably. I was excused from the room. I have a feeling that watching Blood Diamond will be a similar experience. I remember reading articles about the child-soldiers in that war, and how horrified I was at the mental images that formed in my mind: children toting guns instead of building sand-castles, children becoming pawns, numb to feeling, cruel yet innocent. I don't know if I'll be able to bear watching those images on the screen. (A note about dubbing movies: In theory, I don't agree with pirating movies.  However, I love films, and living in a town that doesn't have a movie theatre, my normally keen sense of morality has deteriorated a little on this front.  I would never download a movie, but would not refuse if someone passed one along.  And, the fact that downloading is not illegal in Canada has made me feel slightly better, although I strongly believe that it should be illegal.)

Sometimes, I feel so far removed from the rest of the world when I'm up here, in this sleepy northern town. I'm trying to remedy that by turning on the noon-hour news when I come home for lunch, even though it's perhaps easier to be ignorant and willfully blind to the ugliness of humanity.

I can't leave this post on such a distressing note. So, here is proof that there is good in the world, both despite us, and because of us. “Despite” because there's sunlight, there's wonder, regardless of whether we take the time to enjoy it all. And then, there is beauty that we create, such as the paintings of the northern lights that adorn the foyer of the high school, created by the art students, in collaboration with their teacher.

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