Sunday night. Good weekend. I felt so discouraged but have ended warmed and rested - loved the evening with old friends and family yesterday. We celebrated our traditional very late extended family Christmas complete with carol singing. This is the first year KK has been one of the serious singers, holding her songbook and reading the words - not in an apparent hurry to finish singing and open presents. I felt so happy just sitting on the floor in Jeanie's big back room, leaning against Bob's legs - hearing the interwoven texture of voices I love. Bob and I walked at McKinney Falls yesterday and sorted out many of our hopes and concerns. That felt good too. Last night, after the exteded family celebration Bob and I watched the film City of God about the violent youth culture in Brazilian slum. The film had a Lord of the Flies feel to me , kids killing kids because they could - but Bob pointed out that the slum situation was different from that in Lord of the Flies because the former existed because of the negligence of corrupt authority and the latter because of the abcense of authority. City of God worked as a paradox for m. Most of the kids in the slum were sucked up by it. The one kid, Rocket, always smart, artistic, and a little set apart, used his clear artist's vision and insider perspective to get out. The film shocked me. I think it is wonderful and true that there are always exceptional individuals who triumph pretty much no mater what - and mourn for those who are not exceptions and remember how strongly I believe that all of us are responsible for the least of us, not just for ourselves. I am including Bob's review of the film here. Bob writes:
Last night, we watched City of God. It portrayed a poor slum outside Rio de Janeiro and the gangs that emerged within the lawless slum. It was lawless because the establishment didn't care about it and because some police took payoffs to ignore crime there. The movie was told from the voice/view of a resident who escaped the slum, becoming a photographer, and like a photographer, he saw and watched what happened without much verbal comment, without romanticism, condemnation, or overdramaticization. He just showed us what he saw.
It made me aware of the much greater costs of dire poverty than I had imagined. Not just hunger and disease. Not just desperation and struggle. But in addition, the emergence of violence and oppression by young males who feel hopeless and helpless outside their coterie of gang members. Also, how a masichistic sociopath can easily rise to position of power and influence in this setting.
But it also showed me how, even in such dire poverty, even many of the "hoods" saw their life as not good, as an older brother told the younger, "you're smart. You can get out of this. Study, get educated, and don't touch a gun." Whether education, art, or simply determination did it, this younger brother did escape this "city of god" that seemed forsaken by all, including god, and in the process, told this story.
It is useful for me to see how people live in other places.
An excellent film, with food for thought. Portuguese? with subtitles.