You ever have one of those moments when the curtain of fog lifts? I stop just short of calling it an epiphany, but something struck me this morning. I was watching a trailer…yes, those things most people fast forward past, or used to. (In my day… hahaha, just kidding). I love movie trailers because I love film and I love seeing artfully made mini-stories. Today, after a lot of buzz, I decided to check out the trailer for the new Christopher Nolan war film “Dunkirk.”
Now, just a little background, I haven’t written in a long time. I haven’t felt able to. My life, and the world at large has seemed to be nothing but an avalanche of misfortune and loss and I’ve been unable to articulate, or even understand exactly how I feel about it. I’ve not been handling life so well. At best, I’ve been angry and overwhelmed and at worst, I’ve felt a general loss of connection to humanity. I just don’t feel like this is my world anymore. Paradoxically, I don’t feel like I’m alone in that.
A little while ago, in said trailer, I was shown what I didn’t even realize I was mourning.
Of course, humanity is still alive in the world. By humanity, I mean empathy, kindness, and the heroism that happens every day. What has been different, at least to me, is that we don’t see it anymore. We’re overwhelmed by conflict. Politics is conflict, news is conflict. Most of the media we’re hit with is either vapid or profoundly mean-spirited. Conflict and violence has taken the lead and I don’t know about you, but it’s begun to make me feel burned out and more than a little bit hopeless.
It occurred to me that maybe my new-found affinity for Superman and Captain America (and my very old but newly ignited affinity for Wonder Woman) has more than a little bit to do with needing that shining example of people doing the right thing, especially when it doesn’t benefit them. They are beacons in a world that grows more muddy and pessimistic by the day.
“Dunkirk” did the same thing for me, but more profoundly. As it unfolded I found myself transfixed. Before I realized what was happening, the tears welled up. The world has perhaps always been in conflict, but people, good people, have always been there, even if they’re not on the news. It reminded me of that. It also reminded me of why I have such a deep respect for Britain in WWII and why film is so powerful.
“Dunkirk” reminded me that regular people, like me, like you can be extraordinary. We can follow those examples even if art is the only place to see them right now. Film, and art at large remind us of who we are and who we can be, and thank goodness for it.
Be human. Be a hero, even if no one can see it.