Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the tag “Invictus”

Movies That Matter – Gandhi – When A Message Never Gets Old

Not long ago I talked about my admiration for Nelson Mandela who was portrayed in the movie Invictus. He spent so many years incarcerated in a violent prison and regime, and who still chose a path of reconciliation when he took power instead of wreaking brutal revenge.

The Mahatma Gandhi taught a similar message and the movie, which I first saw some 20 years ago, has a message that is as relevant today as ever. It is possible to bring down an evil regime without force. It is possible to solve complex, age-old political solutions through dialog and understanding.

The movie is a timeless beauty. It shares a lot of the human side of this great man and the people who helped him. Having traveled around India for 6 months, India holds a special place in my heart. It is a country that sharpens the senses in every place that you go to.  The movie somehow manages to share this with us.

But the real value of the movie is far beyond the artistic. There are too many places in the world, where helpless people are being killed, abused, and incarcerated. There are too many leaders who need to stop for a moment and see the movie. They cannot meet with Gandhi, not in this world at least. But they should find some face-to-face time with Nelson Mandela, while this great man still walks upon the earth. ——————————————————————————————————-

Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

 

 

 

Movies That Matter – Invictus

One of my defining episodes as a teenager exploring social activism was the anti-apartheid movement. I attended my first demonstration with them, asked people to sign petitions, and had a Free Nelson Mandela sticker on my pencil case. When people were asked to play their favorite song at the local youth center, I offered up Biko by Peter Gabriel.

I always get excited for the soccer World Cup. This year was different. It was not just for the once-every-four-years’ festival of my favorite sport, but the recognition of how far South Africa has come. In a world of hate, corruption, violence and extremism, South Africa is a beacon of what can be achieved.

The overthrow of a brutal, racist system did not spiral into the bloodshed and vengeance that so many feared. The brave and difficult decision to heal memories and move on are a tribute not only to Nelson Mandela, but to every South African who committed themselves to this part.

Invictus was a landmark movie. It is a fictionalized the true story of South Africa hosting the rugby World Cup, as they exited the dark ages of apartheid. In the year leading up to the tournament, the team comes together to be an example of unity that trickles down through society. In an interesting parallel, Mandela needs to deal with integrating his personal security detail with the South African police detail.

I am not usually much of an actor/actress observer, but both Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon are awesome in their roles. I was skeptical that anyone could possibly ‘play’ a man who is truly a living icon, a larger-than-life inspiration for me. But Morgan Freeman is terrific.

It might be a sign of age, but there is something urgent in wanting to share a historical period of time that you lived through and ensure that generations to come will never forget it. I feel this sense of urgency when I talk with Holocaust survivors.

Invictus helps to fill this role. I will buy the DVD, and will sit my sons down to watch it. They will enjoy the movie, as it is a great movie. And then I will share my own story with them, and try to pass on my memory to the next generation.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

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