Justice League, The Pope and Why We Should All Be Talking About Yemen
Going to the movie theater is one of my favorite things to do here in Muscat. Before 7 pm, the theater is empty and so are the best seats. The popcorn is cheap and tastes like the good stuff. (The cheddar-caramel mix is out of this world.) And best of all, it only takes two minutes to walk from our house to the nearest theater. We’re a street and a parking lot away (which means I don’t even have to use the public restrooms). Talk about convenience.
So when Justice League was playing, Cooper and I walked over one Friday afternoon (the weekend here) to get our popcorn and enjoy the show. Only thing was, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Afterward, as we walked back home, something bothered me, and it wasn’t just Ben Affleck’s acting. The plot was canned, yes, the world was at the brink of total destruction (again) but that wasn’t it either. I was happy Superman was back, once he stopped trying to destroy everyone. (Sorry, late on the spoiler alert.) Yes, I loved Wonder Woman, but she and Batman together? Uhh…no. I left feeling what evs, when I should have been feeling inspired, that’s what Superhero movies do, they save the day!
I liked all the Spiderman’s with Toby Maguire, all the Batman’s directed by Christopher Nolan. Wonder Woman was beyond brilliant, (and yes ladies, we waited far too long). Ironman, great. Antman, funny. So why was this one so different?
It wasn’t until the next day, when I got an email from a friend with a link to a TED talk that I realized the reason why this movie left me feeling hollow and deflated. The TED talk, given by the Pope, titled: “Why the only future worth building includes everyone,” was about our Real-world crises, the one going on right now, on our doorstep, not some “other” place.
He didn’t say it in so many words, but he reminded me of the desperate need we have in the world for love, for goodness, for clean air, for honesty, for morals, for safe cities and restored hope, for heroes. Justice League had Superheroes, but they weren’t saving us from anything, not even boredom. And I suppose, the fact that Hollywood is in a critical moral deficit from years and years of untold sexual abuse and lies, that it rings a little hollow they would be the ones to inspire us to moral greatness.
I believe in redemption, I believe in forgiveness, but we need men and women who are willing to stand for truth and virtue for our rising generation. Not just talk about it, but actually be it.
Looking at the current line-up of politicians and leaders across the globe, I have to ask, where have our heroes gone? Sports figures, newscasters, actors, government officials, there’s been a string of incidents and accidents, hints and allegations (Paul Simon said it). Senator Jeff Flake, famous for resigning, said, “Enough.” Enough already. If you’re going to stand for something, then STAND FOR SOMETHING.
This isn’t about being perfect, long live the narrative of the flawed hero willing to come to the rescue of humanity. But we have false heroes, with powers capable of doing good, turning a blind eye to the loss and utter destruction of whole countries and our planet! And I’m not even overstating the facts.
America is arming the depraved Saudi government with massively destructive, sophisticated, I’m talking Tony-Stark type weapons–that are blowing civilians to pieces in Yemen. Trump was just in Saudi, shaking hands with the Crown Price, getting all kinds of flattery for making billion-dollar deals that continue to cause the GREATEST HUMANITARIAN CRISES since 1945. According to latest reports by the BBC, 14.1 million people in Yemen face possible starvation. Enough. Enough. ENOUGH.
Heroes for humanity
If you want to glimpse why this crisis is epically critical, watch the TED talk by Melissa Fleming of UN’s refugee agency. You’ll hear stories of children who’ve been driven from their home while parents and family members were killed. Stories of children forced to live in refugee camps that look like prison, as they wait and wait and wait for hope. Millions of children are facing this predicament, and they may be the lucky ones. Still more live within borders where food and medicine can’t reach them. I live next door to Yemen, where every single day children are dying because they don’t have enough food to eat. Yet here I am, trying to work out and shed a few pounds before the holidays, breathing in the sun lit air. It’s a difficult truth, but I’ve got to tell it.
It’s where we stand now, but it’s not where we have to stay. Yes, I can’t cross the Yemen border and reach those people or stop this complicated and sinister war. But as the Pope reminded:
“The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a “you” and themselves as part of an “us.” We all need each other.”
There are things we CAN do. Ways we can be everyday heroes. And if you watch Melissa’s TED talk, you’ll see some inspiring messages for the power of resilience among refugees. The Pope said, “A single individual is enough for hope to exist.” All it takes is one person to give another person hope, then it spreads. “There begins a revolution.”
Starting a revolution
This world needs a revolution. People need help. And help usually comes in the form of another person. If our days lack meaning, the best way to create it is to help someone else find there’s. Jesus taught that unless we serve others, there is very little purpose in our own life. Mother Teresa said something similar, “One cannot love, unless it is at their own personal expense.” Heroes love greatly. They sacrifice for others. They don’t run when the fight comes knocking. That’s why we cheer for them, that’s why we call them heroes.
The Good Samaritan
We can stay stuck looking to the sky for someone to save the day, or we can roll up our own sleeves and get to work. We start by doing the small things. Donate. Volunteer. Smile at someone. Reach out. Start a food drive. Everyone can take part in this revolution. All it takes is a willingness to not cross to the other side of the road. We can’t close our eyes when we see someone in need. Like the Good Samaritan, we can reach out and help some “one,” one at a time, no matter ethnic background, race or religion.
The “one,” makes up us all.
“If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves,” -Emily Dickinson. We have some pretty big things to take care of on this planet, but all we need to do is get started with the small. One day at a time. One person at a time. One act of kindness at a time.
The Yemen crises is our crises. These people are our people. We are all brothers and sisters of the human race, born to this time. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We can’t do nothing. We have to talk about this, get our politicians talking about this, tune into what it going on and say ‘Enough.’ If we are loud enough and clear enough, our voices will carry.
Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the holocaust said, “The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.” We can’t be indifferent to the wars that are raging, the people that are dying, the leaders that stand as false heroes. We need radical kindness. For inspiration, watch this video, show it to your family and decide what you can do to change the world. Do something for “one.” #OneForAll #RadicalKindnessRevolution #LightTheWorld