I cried the Panama Canal the other night during the opening scenes of Crónicas.
I'd not seen the film before. I've never been to the funeral of three children nor watched an angry Ecuadorean crowd beat the life near-clean from a man mistaken to be leaving the scene of a boy's (twin brother of one of the three murdered children) accidental death. Neither had I cried for a long time for something I'd seen on screen which was so detached from my own life.
It was just... something else to mourn the pain of those I'd never met and even those who were fictional characters. It was something foreign from daily life, feeling the tears streaming down my face while my mind was completely void of pain for myself. I actually believe that some readers of this entry may laugh at me for "getting all emotional over a movie." You're allowed to laugh, but hear me out:
I suppose the third-world society the crimes were happening in was shocking. This was taking place in a community of poverty and (assumed) low quality of life. Combined with cinematography designed to make me feel the way I did, it's no wonder I did. Each day I read the news covering teenagers throwing rocks at police and computer monitors through London windows while the media hounds him over his shoulder. I'm used to hearing about political protests and the occasional riot. Shootings no longer shock me as I know how ridiculous the US' gun laws are and I've grown to accept them as commonplace.
I do recall the last time I did cry for the victims of violence; it was the Beslan school hostage crisis
of 2004. Sitting with close friends, sorting out our own dramas, I heard the news that "they" had "finally" ended the situation; by killing at least 334 hostages, including 186 children. If the world had let something so bad happen to so many people who were meant to be safe at school where people go to learn to make the world a better place... what hope was there for myself and the girls* I despised so much to talk through our problems? I was humiliated, embarrassed for the human race, and in utter despair. I cried for over half an hour for people half a world away.
Third-world, developing nations come in a number of stereotypical categories:
- The villages of skeletal mothers and children swarmed by flies.
- The political hells of boy soldiers and suicided martyrs fighting either religion or political enemies internationally.
- The religious mountain towns where the law-enforcers are everyone except for the established community leaders, most likely corrupt or about to be taken over in a coup.
You've pictured them each perfectly haven't you?
Now describe to me your ideal Nirvana, Heaven, Summerland, Paradise, Oasis... Can you? What is it? What is your perfect world?
Or is it just an ideal for the after-life to perfect to exist in the current?
Mine is that we can forgive our enemies. That we can strive to understand the stories of others, even if we take years to do so and are forced to the brink of madness in the process. I want to meet the people who have made me suffer over my life and talk to them again. Let them understand what they did to me and I want to understand why they said/did those things to me. Share our stories for the sake of understanding, not to bring out the dusty record players or to "finally" get that payback.
I don't know where I'm going with this article. Maybe I'm trying to get in touch with my concept of Peace after years without an organised religious category. I suggest we all do it from time to time; question what we really believe about the big, overall picture of human nature. I'd like it to be a peaceful one.
*who I each still call my sister today.