Friday, August 11, 2017

Use Labels for Items, Not People

        I watched the 2016 version of Ben-Hur for the first time last night.  I don't recall ever having made it through the 1959 version without crying, so why should 2016 be any different?  Jenna looked at me after the Chariot Race scene and asked if I was crying.  I cry for a number of reasons each time.  She had excused herself before the crucifixion.  That was heart-wrenching.  

        I had recently met some of my water buddies at the local coffee shop.  One asked what makes one a Jew.  Is it a race? a religion?  It doesn't matter - we're all part of the human race.  He was just wondering.  I'll admit I've wondered about that myself.  I sent him a link to this site.

        I am one who could never be in the Klu Klux Klan or put labels on people - usually I don't know.  I don't know if that would be considered ignorance or miraculous - as in most cases I truly can't tell by looking at a person what race he or she might be - and it doesn't matter.  Why do we insist on putting labels on each other anyway?

        When Ben-Hur started, Judah and Messala are racing their horses - egging on one another.  It reminded both Jenna and I of the introduction to the Prince of Egypt.  In both movies the pair start out as friends, but labels change when groups are divided: Romans and Jews, Egyptians and Hebrews, North and South, Americans and Japanese.

        I thought about countless stories I have either seen, heard about or read.  Some true, some fiction - but all with the same purpose.  Sometimes friendship tear apart, sometimes they end up saving - but are still lost in many cases.
        Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook, by Beverly Patt,  is about a friendship between two American girls named Dottie and Louise.  Though both are Americans, Dottie is sent to an internment camp and writes to Louise who keeps her letters in a scrapbook along with some other memorabilia. 

But both girls are affected by the war, and when Dottie and her family are relocated, she no longer hears from Louise.  Still friends in their heart, but there is still a sadness of losing contact.

        I watched Friendship in Vienna when in 1988 when it was first created and aired on the Disney Channel.   It is about the friendship between two girls, Inge and Lise - neither understanding the conflict that surrounds them or why both of their parents insist they stay away from each other. 

One day Inge is told she can't continue with her education at the public school.  Lise's brother joins the youth of Hitler and Lise tells Inge to stay away from him as he has become a dark person.  She sacrifices much for their friendship.  Their friendship is torn, but it is because of their friendship that Inge and her parents are saved.

        I thought of examples from before the Civil War - those may have attended West Point Military Academy and fought in the Mexican war found themselves on different sides did not view themselves as comrades but enemies.  I thought about some of the westerns that my husband will watch in which friendships are formed between those that have been told not to be friends.  Sometimes it works to be a blessing.

        We don't always share political points of view.  We tend to use labels - even if it's not meant in a derogatory way - we still call ourselves Jewish, American, black, white, straight, gay, rich, poor, star- and plain-bellied Sneetches (see here) How great it would be if we just saw ourselves as human beings and treat one another with respect and dignity.

For further information about the examples I used see here for " Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook"  and here for Friendship in Vienna 

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