This is the weekend of American Thanksgiving. This is a secular holiday where Americans come together in the spirit of the pilgrims who fled Europe for a freer life. Notwithstanding the complicated relationship that ensues with our First Nations, the landed explorers and missionaries were welcomed in and culture and technology was also imported. Maybe for the same controversial reasons many centuries later the tone in America has shifted (again) toward one of suspicion toward the immigrant, legal or otherwise.
This is the context under which the movie Arrival is so poignant. Where aliens in Independence Day fashion arrive in huge ships and hover over various parts of the globe, and humanity tries to figure out how to respond. Like the immigration debate, the various viewpoints drive wedges between each other, with almost as much acrimony toward the aliens themselves. In Arrival the protagonists work tirelessly to build bridges, led by a linguist who tries to learn the alien language and is transformed herself in the process.
Without delving in further and ruining delightfully surprising elements of the plot, the film is a reminder of the call of the Lord to reach out and build bridges of true understanding with the Other, especially those on the margins of society, as the Holy Father would put it. In turn we can be assured of our own enrichment.
Also this past week Martin Scorsesee released his trailer for the movie Silence. This is a film with a similar theme about treating the outsider, as the plot follows two Catholic priests, the outsiders in an insular imperial Japan. The brutal depictions of martyrdom remind us of how forgetful we can be of the image and likeness of God on each one of us when we are relegated as Other.
I’m thankful for having been raised in the multicultural environment in Canada where I have had the opportunity to dialogue and see different viewpoints from which I can make better judgments without violence or compulsion.
Happy US Thanksgiving
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