Maybe it’s just hopeful thinking, but I am seeing a shift toward more attempts at kindness and understanding in various outlets today. I think people are so fed up with the polarization and bad behavior and insults and unkindness, made worse since the pandemic. However, I was encouraged by this positive trend in two movies this weekend that sent a surprisingly similar, and unifying message.
“You People” is the #1 movie on Netflix. “Jesus Revolution” has earned $30 million, well exceeding expectations. Why are these two movies resonating with the American public? It’s because of the message that despite our differences, we can glean greater satisfaction from trying to understand the other side. And even if we don’t agree with the other side, we can still extend acts of kindness toward those with whom we disagree.
“You People” brilliantly and hilariously navigates the issues of racial, political and religious divisions with fresh, often cringe-worthy humor that reminds us too much of our shortcomings and missteps in race relations. The premise is a Black woman and White man fall in love to the consternation of both sets of parents. While the White Jewish mother inadvertently but constantly insults her son’s fiancé, the Black Muslim father deliberately antagonizes his daughter’s fiancé, culminating in the couple’s break up. In one funny scene when the longsuffering couple invites both sets of parents to dinner, the White Jewish Mother and Black Muslim Father begin arguing over which people were more oppressed, the Jews in the Holocaust or the Black slaves.
Neither party was willing or able to listen to the other side. Nor were they willing to examine their own failures at understanding of the other party’s viewpoints and perspectives. Only when they saw the sadness they were bringing to their children that they loved, were they able to truly examine their motives, apologize for their insults and change their righteous indignation to a stance of listening, if not agreeing.
Interestingly, the movie “Jesus Revolution” really has the same message. In this movie, the church leaders took homage with the hippies’ statements of love and acceptance, even though that is exactly what Jesus taught while still partaking in drugs and the free love movement. The elder generation thought the hippies needed to first change their behavior and put on proper clothes before they returned to church.
Only when they started listening to each other and examining their own hearts, could they accept, that maybe there was another way to worship and that both could be correct.
Sometimes we need to put away that righteous indignation for a spell and put on a demeanor of respect and kindness.
After 30 years of divorce litigation, I realized that this was in fact the demeanor and posture the parties were lacking during a divorce case. In litigation, there was neither kindness nor respect. But with mediation, we can listen to the other side’s perspectives and if not accept those views for ourselves, at least accept that those perspectives, viewpoints, opinions and beliefs work for that other person. I wish more people would engage in mediation before reacting, antagonizing and insulting. And go see this movie.