One of my favourite films is ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. There are a number of reasons for this – one is that I’m a big fan of the novella it’s based on – ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ by Stephen King.
The story was originally published in a book of 4 stories called ‘Different Seasons’. Each story had a subtitle based on a season. If you’re interested, the other stories were ‘Apt Pupil’ – subtitled ‘Summer of Corruption’, ‘The Body’ – eventually filmed as ‘Stand By Me’, with the subtitle ‘Fall from Innocence’ and the final story was ‘the Breathing Method’, subtitled ‘A Winter’s Tale.
And ‘Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption’? That was the story for spring, with the subtitle ‘Hope Springs Eternal’. And that is another reason why I love this film – because it is about hope in a major way. Indeed, one of my favourite quotations about hope comes from this film:
“hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
I’m a Christian, and in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, there’s the lovely line ‘These three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’. Well, I sometimes beg to disagree with Paul – sometimes I think the greatest thing we can have is hope, especially in times like the ones we’re living through right now.
This is the closest thing you’ll get from me to a comment about the Paris terror attacks. I’m not a soldier, not an intelligence operative, policeman, counter-insurgency specialist or witness. Anything I say about the attacks would be second hand – gleaned from mainstream or social media – and I have no answers.
I want to comment more about the reaction of people; I think it was barely 24 hours after the attacks when someone pointed me at a video someone had put together as to why the whole thing was somehow related to the Illuminati and the Knights Templars. (King Phillip IV of France suppressed the Templars – to whom he owed money – on Friday 13th October 1307) As Saturday unfolded, I was regaled with ‘the truth’ from all and sundry on the wilder regions of social media – it was an inside job, it was the Jews / CIA / NSA / Boy Scouts (one of those was made up…), it was fault of the refugees in Calais, like Charlie Hebdot the attacks were stage managed (I assume the dead bodies are all some sort of dummies, or is the french government now slaughtering it’s own people?) There’s also the expected reaction from the bigots of ‘Throw out all the refugees and close the borders’, which is interestingly counterpointed by the conspiracy theorists with ‘Ahhh…the EU WANTS the refugees coming in to allow them to blame them for terrorist attacks and hence bring in more totalitarian measures…’ Oh, and it’s all been done to start WW3.
My take on this whole thing right now is that people are dead – and this week it’s been Beirut and Baghdad as well (whether those attacks were part of the same conspiracy or not I don’t know) – and that the rest of us need to have some sort of hope that things will get better. Does the whole conspiracy thing – with it’s endless proselytizing of unproveable ‘truths’ – give hope to anyone? I don’t think it does. I’ve written on this blog before about this issue – 3 years ago – and it’s sad that nothing changes – here’s the previous posts, and I don’t intend to re-hash my thinking….
I think that it causes despair. I think the active conspiracy theorists are at best overly imaginative or suffering from problems with fact finding and elucidating cause and effect. At worst they’re just plain evil, and a major problem. There are undoubtedly some conspiracies around – but sometimes, most of the time, Occam’s Razor Rules.
A friend put it well today “the thoughts and attitudes of people that I like and love even more scarey than the awful things that are happening in the world“. When folks you regard as good, intelligent people start spouting this crap, or start becoming bigoted fascists, or start losing their common humanity – what do you do?
On Facebook today I posted:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers
Today is a day to be a helper for humanity. Be compassionate, hug your friends, bury a few grudges, share food with family, pray, meditate, kill your hate.
Be good to yourself. I’m engaging with the world for a while as social media is going to be full of anger, hate, conspiracy theories and bigots, and I just don’t need that right now.
I think I should have added…be a hoper. Keep that good thing alive. Don’t succumb to despair.
This morning as I pondered this stuff, I looked out of my study window and to my great pleasure saw a rainbow arcing across the sky. That was a hopeful sign.