Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Hot Chocolate

Sometimes, the simplest things can make me feel so shallow.

Last night, we decided to watch the movie “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” It’s an Irish movie that was recommended to us before we went to Ireland. I guess that I was hoping for an upbeat, pastoral, pub movie filled with pints of Guinness because the emotionally draining, political dirge that rolled out in front of me was not quite what I was up for as an ending to my weekend.

That is not to say it was not a good movie. It just made me feel shallow, as I kept wishing for a song or two to appear. It follows the course of two brothers through their engagement with the cause for Irish independence in the 1920’s, and it’s not a chipper narrative. If you had any doubts about the brutality of occupied Ireland, this film will take them away. If you wondered how close humans are to becoming that which we most despise, this will show you. If you crave a cup of hot chocolate, made with real milk, cocoa, cinnamon, vanilla, and fresh spearmint, put this movie on, and I’ll probably make it.

I guess I am glad that I saw it. It must be an effective piece because I am still thinking about it and the issues that it raised. When does a cause take over our lives, including our rational thought? How truly different are we from those who we oppose? Is it only power that differentiates us, and were we to obtain that power, would we act in the same way? Is one quarter cup of cocoa enough for three cups of milk?

I would say that the cause has taken over rational thought when it causes us to no longer see our fellow humans as individuals with feelings as acute as our own; deep down, we are probably not all that different from those we oppose—they feel as deeply about their issues as we do; absolute power corrupts absolutely, and even the most benign of people will find themselves changed by wielding it; and one quarter cup of cocoa is the minimum. Start with organic, locally produced milk from cows who get to wander pastures, use honey instead of sugar, add a little cinnamon, vanilla, and a pinch of salt, and remember that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

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