Claudia A. Lombardo
August 2, 2001
This class, these movies, the readings... they are making me think. They are making me think about all that I do not know, all that I do not pay attention to. It is as if God is saying “look at all I have to give you, now what are you doing with it?” I don’t know what I am doing with this knowledge, but I am trying to be a nicer person.
I think because of this class, Gandhi has become my official hero. His message is so basic: love one another as each other. It seems that I am learning that more and more that the best way for life to be lived is the simplest way, from prayer, to thought, to lifestyle. Just yesterday I was thinking how that one simple golden rule I was taught in grade school is really all the rules that I need, yet for some reason I don’t always follow
it. Gandhi is such a good role model to follow because he started out as a normal person like the rest of us. He “cared” for material things, he cared for the well being of himself and his family, which are all valid things to be concerned about. However, what he realized later on was that one must care for everyone, not just themselves.
I think that I was meant to take this class just for the fact of getting Gandhi’s message. I did not know much at all about this man. As a photographer I knew quite a bit about his sessions with Margaret Bourke-White, but not much else. Now I am seeing, seeing things that I have avoided, things that I thought didn’t concern me, and I am realizing that I must not sit on my hunches any longer. I need to start a change with in myself, and maybe there I can make others happy. I want to read more, to know more about Gandhi, I want to know how he did it. How did he live this perfectly loving life. It will be a great lesson, I’m sure.
One of the most eye-opening things I read for this class came from Nelson Mandela, it was his inaugural speech of 1994. He begins with “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I was shocked when I read this statement. Could this be trite, really true? Am I, as well as others, afraid to go out and do things, not because we will fail, but because we know that we can really do it, even as hard as whatever “it” may be? This idea resonated through out this entire class. Film after film that is really the idea. Elmer Gantry a perfect example of this.
Elmer Gantry kept on his rough-and-tumble-round-about ways because that is what he knew and he knew how to do it well. He was a con-artist who one day realized he had conned himself when he actually fell in love with the girl he was pursuing. I think that he knew he was not inadequate and therefore was scared by what may come about out of him being good, being his best. Not many people may want to be compared to Elmer Gantry, but in essence that is who we all are, and that is who Mandela was pointing out to us on the day of his inauguration.
Ultimately the message is simplicity. Out of all of the films that we have seen and read about, simplicity is almost always the common thread. I thought of this while reading the prayer of St. Francis. While having had seen this prayer many times as well as read it, I didn’t really “read” it until the other day. “Where there is hatred, let me show love.., where there is darkness, light.., to be understood, as to understand.” This seems so basic, so easy, yet think of all the happiness there would be if everyone could follow such ideals. Are they really ideals? Why can’t these things just be standards, standards that we all live by? Then again, we are all human and we have fault. I must admit that I don’t live like this, I want to be understood, before I understand, I want to be loved, before I think of when others want to be loved, it’s not right, but this is what I do. But it is very simple, St. Francis, as well as others are saying, do these basic things and we will all be happy. Of course the challenge is actually doing it.
“Movies as Therapy,” the title of one of our class essays, was not a thought before, but certainly is now. I realized that films, like any other kind of art speak to people, which is what this class has done for me this summer. They have made me delve in to myself, see what I needed to see. Of course not all movies will have such a deep affect, sometimes all you need is a light comedy to lift you up. I guess in a way they all relate to this class, God wants us to be happy, so he has films made that will do just us. God’s Hollywood is right, because that’s whose it is.
I find it funny that I am always so amazed at how the simplest ideas are the ones that strike me the most. I would have thought that they would have been easier to measure, to recognize, but apparently not. Therefore I am thankful for these films, these readings, they are all little stories to awaken something inside, something that needs to be and must be.