The scenario: A world leader who rules through suppression of freedoms and instillation of fear. A world leader who comes to power due to the complacency of voters. A world leader who speaks for the disenfranchised who once had a voice. A world leader who claims moral victory yet doesn't live by any moral code. A world leader who no one thought would ever be voted into office.
Sound like 2016? Actually it is the underlying scenario for the 2006 movie, V for Vendetta. Over the holidays, our son suggested watching it. "Following world war, London is a police state occupied by a fascist government, and a vigilante known only as V (Hugo Weaving) uses terrorist tactics to fight the oppressors of the world in which he now lives. When V saves a young woman named Evey (Natalie Portman) from the secret police, he discovers an ally in his fight against England's oppressors."
It was thought provoking,entertaining and timely. Bear in mind, it is an action movie and one based on a comic book so there are plenty of scenes of "willing suspension of disbelief". And while I did find it disturbing that the solution and hero to the problem was a masked terrorist who manipulates his followers, there was some good dialogue:
"Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well, certainly, there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. They were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent." ~ speech given by the protagonist "V" to the people of 2020 England who inhabit this dystopia.
In some ways this might not seem like a Happy New Year message but I think that it is one that is needed. The new year is a good time for reflection. Now is the time for us to step back and think about our past, both individually and societally. To reflect on our current situation, our responsibility and our hand in the process. Now is the time to name the problem.
Now is the time to go forward and make changes, whether that is for a situation that is personal, community related, family oriented or societal. Depending upon what we have experienced we might have to take different action steps: we might have to seek information, to stay informed, to ask forgiveness, to become involved, or to sacrifice.
I suggest that 2017 is the time to individually and corporately stand up for what is right, truthful and good. Now is the time to encourage others to do the same. Now is the time to use our words for good, for encouragement, and for relaying the truth.
I think what resonated with me in this film is the power of words and ideas. While I don't agree about the use of force, the hero has some good statements about the use of words. Perhaps there are times when force is necessary but I think the pen is mightier than the sword. I think kind, thoughtful, and inspiring words can do more to elicit change than violence, intimidation and fear.
What about you? Do you view 2017 as a year of fear or hope? How do you portray your ideas? Do you think that violence is necessary to make a point? What is your "initial": are you a "V" for vigilante or are you an "E" for encourager? Do you feel any societal responsibility? What action steps can you take to contribute towards change?