icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


Shooting Wars

I went to see “Django,” over the holiday at an old movie theater on Grand Street in Oakland, California, just blocks away from some of the highest crime streets in the USA. Given the recent gun-toting events in Newtown and elsewhere, it seems a travesty to applaud this movie as well-made, well-acted, and well-written. So I won’t.

One of many 2013 resolutions: boycott all gun-toting violent movies. Let them be well-made, well-acted and well-written, I will not go.

Sitting around a well-appointed dinner table on New Year’s Eve in the self-same city where I saw “Django” and once upon a time taught high school English and American History in a ghetto school, our hostess asked: “What do you wish for in 2013 that is realistic?” I liked the caveat: realistic.

The wine flowed, the food was divine, answers were thoughtful. We were in a safe haven, unthreatened by war or robbery or famine or guns. With my book “Another Day in Paradise; International Humanitarian Workers Tell Their Stories,” about to be published for a second time in China using the “simple” alphabet, I wished for the Chinese to develop a social conscience.

But what about our own politicians, what about corporations, what about gun owners? everyone asked.

I had met a young Chinese entrepreneur on the airplane on the flight out and was struck by his drive; he was reading a book about success and said that if he couldn’t be a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, he wouldn’t be a success. It reminded me of the market-driven entertainment industry. What is a movie’s measure of success: the millions it pulls in on opening weekend. By that standard, “Django” will do just fine.

When I asked my young Chinese friend if his life was in balance—an Eastern concept lost in the throes of the communist/freemarket revolution—he hesitated. “I’m a rock climber,” he said,” but I don’t have a girlfriend.” I told him about the article I was reading in The New Yorker of December 24 &31, “Polar Express” by Keith Gessen and the already evident competition between our two nations—and others—to take advantage of the melting polar ice cap. “We could have a shooting war,” he said. “And that wouldn’t be a good thing.”  Read More 
Be the first to comment