Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sleeping Pills, Turtles, and Mines

Last night we watched Turtles Can Fly in Islamic Studies. It was intense. The film was made by an Iranian director in Iraq and was the first film to be made there since the fall of Saddam Hussein. The film focuses on a small village on the Turkish-Iraqi border with a large population of orphaned and/or refugee Kurdish children. A wide variety of children were presented and some of their stories were truly heartbreaking. The film is fiction but feels like a documentary. I don't want to go into too many details in case anyone wants to see it, which I heartily recommend. Warning: don't sit down with popcorn and friends for this one expecting a light evening of entertainment. For example, after we finished our short discussion, one of my professors said, "Well, I'm glad you all enjoyed the film." I kind of laughed and said, "I don't know that enjoyed it the right word." I do appreciate how uncomfortable it made me and how much it gave me to think about.

What the film did most is make me feel hopeless. There are children all over the world hurt by war and the fact is whether we leave today or tomorrow from Iraq, these children's situations will be the same. They will still have lost arms and legs, will still be orphans, will still remember the rape that forced a child on them. The film crossed political lines for me. It makes the issues we argue over in American politics seem juvenile. Turtles Can Fly wasn't even anti-American; yet, I felt my fair share of American guilt. I remember the day of invasion and watching as that long caravan of American tanks went over portable bridges into Iraq feeling a sense of pride and purpose. What the hell was I thinking!?

Have we made life easier for children whose arms were blown of by mines America left from a past war? We haven't, and we can't. My other professor felt the director was trying to convey that when some things are done their effects are permanent. We see the war in Iraq as an event. For children living there it won't really ever end. They will still have the scars and miss their parents for the rest of their lives. What are we to do as privileged westerners?

As a Christian I find myself searching for the hope that Christ brings to situations like this one. To be honest, I haven't found it yet. But I'm still looking. On the way to class this morning I wondered, what, if anything, can I do to make a difference. I realized that I really do need to be more thankful for the totally undeserved life I have been given. Recently, I have been procrastinating writing a paper and feeling overwhelmed because "all" the things I need to do. Guess, what? My life's not difficult! It's a cake walk on sleeping pills. I feel like my call right now is to be more appreciative for everything that's been given to me and to use it more wisely. I know we all have a wider call to help unjust situations around the world but right now, I'm going to try to focus on what I can do here and now.

So, I went and watched the American Idol results. See what I mean, hopeless...

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