being oh so very human



We went to see John Wick this weekend and there was one moment, early on, which I thought might be too much (spoilers for that moment abound on the interwebz and I should have known it was going to happen, I just had a very visceral reaction). And then I pulled myself back together and enjoyed the heck out of the movie. It was ultra violent revenge fantasy about killing evil people for doing evil things. BOOM. (Literally.)

And the music was really, really, really good.

(I mean, the new Marilyn Manson track, "Killing Strangers"? IS STUPENDOUS. The whole damn movie could essentially be a music video for the song, the song is that good. But I'm a huge Marilyn Manson fan, you probably knew that already. Your mileage may vary, just don't yuck my yum.)

I feel like ultra violent movies are problematic in some regards - there are a lot of people who don't have a good boundary between real and imaginary and sometimes I feel like that permeability is getting larger, culturally, and that worries me - I'm a highly empathetic pacifist.

And yet, I am still an action fan-grrl at heart. I love movies. I love action movies. I love thrillers. (I can't do horror or overly realistic violence - I don't usually watch war movies, for example.)

I like what I like. And I like (ultra) violent action, when it is stylized and wrapped up in fantasy, like Game of Thrones and Vikings, two of my favorite shows.

There's this "good vs evil" trope to fantasy that makes that violence (to me) very non-real. Life just doesn't work that way to me. Because I just don't believe in "good" or "evil" in the real world. We're all just human. Look past the trappings and see us breathe.

We are not good.
We are not bad.
We all do some good things and some bad things.
No one is perfect, either way. We're all just human.

But not everyone sees all human beings as human.

And in fact, there is a large contingent of our culture trying to convince us that we aren't all human. This is a political effort, and an advertising effort, and a religious effort, this "othering" that creates scapegoats and monsters.

Once we accept that there is an "us" (human) and a "them" (not human), it's too damn easy to pull the trigger, figuratively and literally.

This is not even a little bit new, this is something we've been doing since the earliest recorded human history, it's just easier now because of the internet (and before that because of TV, and before that, because of radio, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, all the way back to cave drawings).  But the glory of easy world-wide communication is that it becomes easier to spread empathy and understanding, too.

We can buy into the message of oneness or we can buy into the message of division.

We can spread the message of oneness or we can spread the message of division.

We can cultivate empathy and compassion. Or we can cultivate revenge and domination.

And even though I love fantasy and I love a lot of violent movies and I love a lot of very angry music, I am unshakeable in my belief that the fantasy of "us vs them" isn't real.

We are all worthy of love and respect and compassion.

We are all one. 

And when fantasy of "us vs them"  is bought into, and violence happens in real life (as it does, way too often), I can do my best to keep calm in my grief and stay non-retaliatory and support people who are finding real life solutions that don't bring more violence into the world.

I can help other parents parent non-violent children.
I can help spread compassion for people with differences.
I can vote in my local and federal elections for candidates who are (less) blood thirsty.
I can do my part to stop the cycle of competitive consumerism.
I can write about empathy and grief and our oneness.

Some days I look at the world (via social media) and I am so scared for us. Other days, I can feel the hope that I am trying to cultivate shine through in everyone else. Ebb and flow.

There's nothing new under the sun.

And that's good and bad, both.

We're all just very human.

Doing what we can do.