Wednesday, December 17, 2008

LOST and forgetting safety

I've heard a lot about Lost for the last four years--what a great show it is, how brilliantly it's written.
Besides figuring it to be X-Files crossed with Gilligan's Island, I don't have much endurance for mystery and suspense (I get anxious with cliffhangers and resentful of the audience manipulation; it's why I stopped watching Heroes) so I avoided the show--something to watch when it's finished its run and I can rent the DVDs or borrow them from a friend or watch them all online at my own pace, without the stress of having to wait an entire week or for another season to start before the next episode.
Really, I'm just impatient.
Anyway, Lost airs on other channels and every now and then, when I'm looking for a brain break from painting, reading, and writing, I'll turn on the ol' boob tube (for young'uns, this is a nickname for the television set; now you know where YouTube probably derives its name) for a few minutes, usually while I eat. I channel surfed and half-heartedly stopped to watch an episode (I hate starting in the middle of something, too).
So this guy has a flashback, and he's chained in some restaurant kitchen when a beautiful woman enters holding a cat. Maybe it's a nod to James Bond, I think. And then she tells a story about the cat. You can watch it on the video above and her story begins at 1:35.
You see, after she was supposedly tortured by the captured character (Sayid), she and her husband went to Paris. She was terrified of leaving her apartment and would look out onto an alley every day, where she saw a cat scavenge for food. One day, children caught the cat, put it in a box, and threw in lit firecrackers.
She finally had reason to come out of her apartment, and she saved the cat.
This cat is her constant companion, purring while she sits and reads, and sleeping beside her at night. Sometimes, though, the cat bites and scratches her and the woman, Amira, explains that this is because the cat forgets that it's safe now--so she forgives it, especially because she knows what it's like never to feel safe. And this is because Sayid tortured her (he ultimately confesses after he hears her story).
We all know people who don't feel safe even when they are safe. They grow up having to defend themselves and it becomes the way they relate to the world and everybody in it. Do we forgive them?
I remember at university when the proctor would go around to the dorms at the beginning of the school year to introduce him- or her-self to the students. Eventually, he or she would get to the "no weapons" policy and tell people that they didn't have to live their urban fantasies out on the campus (and if they tried or were found with weapons, the consequences were severe).
At the time, I thought it was ridiculous that this announcement had to be made. My university was surrounded by redwoods, deer, and wannabe hippies! There was no one to defend against and if you did have to defend yourself (or felt the need to attack), I would have recommended throwing a bar of soap, tossing water on someone's joint, or spouting politically conservative rhetoric--but knives and guns? Preposterous.
The truth is, though, some students from rough neighborhoods, abusive families, racially tense areas, or who had been deeply hurt in some way didn't feel safe, no matter where they were. It could have been an institution of higher learning or a church, it made no difference. The world was a battleground for not feeling like a victim, and being in it meant reacting with either anger and violence or fear and isolation.
Healing takes time. Understanding requires listening. Compassion needs acceptance.
This is what I'm learning in school, and it's a privilege. I'm learning how to help people (including myself) feel safe so that we can communicate better with each other and listen to the guiding voice inside of us.
I assume Lost is a great show just from this segment; but I'm still not going to watch it until it's all collected on DVD!
Invite Beauty,
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