Cameron Crowe’s film, Aloha, is a personal favorite. It features four characters with connections to the US military in Hawaii. All have pieces of their past in which they failed the test of integrity. The story unfolds as each has another chance to do the right thing. All four repent and begin with the new beginning integrity always provides.
The film drew protests from groups claiming to represent Asians and Native Hawaiians, enraged that “all the principal characters were white” (although whites constitute ten percent of Hawaiians). Specially offensive was the casting of white Emma Stone as a character one quarter Hawaiian and another quarter Asian. Reality is, I know people of the ethnicity depicted for Stone’s character who are white as a Norwegian. One of the principal characters is played by Dennis “Bumpy” Kanahele, a full blooded Hawaiian who plays himself as a claimant to the throne of a restored Kingdom of Hawaii. The story moves against a backdrop of European descendants coming to grips with their lives and choices while living in a culture to which they are alien.
It is the Asians who are indeed unrepresented in the film. But they are not in any way connected to the movie plot; it is about military people in an alien culture, and the military in Hawaii is top heavy with haolis. Incidentally, Asians are as alien to Hawaii as are Euros. These Asians want prominence simply because they are more numerous. They are enraged the story is not about them and want sympathy for their rage. Never mind that the story belongs to the people who conceived, wrote and produced it.
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Rage appears to be the spirit of our day.
Leftists are enraged about young blacks dying at the hands of white police and white citizens; Michael Brown and Eric Garner remain the celebrated victims, but Trayvon Martin is still an icon. They are enraged that college is not free and food stamps not universal. Rage is their response to opposing illegal immigration and the claim of freedom of religion in opposition to abortion, same sex marriage, and other social phenomena they call good. They want “somebody” to put a stop to it, without assuming any personal responsibility.
The right is enraged at sanctuary cities for illegals, Obamacare, gun control, speech suppression, and judges who make law from their hip pockets. They are enraged that the most arrogant lawbreakers are government types, and at legislators and executives who say one thing to get elected and then wimp out when donors threaten to withdraw support if they keep their promises. We too – they is me – want “somebody” to put a stop to it. And we don’t want to be saddled with the responsibility to create or restore a working economy and culture; that would require study and action from the great “us.” We are busy, and we want someone else to just do it.
How explain the popularity of Donald Trump…or Barack Obama? They tap the politics of rage and promise to take care of it for us. The trouble is this politics is mindless and everlastingly hungry. When we cede our responsibility to a demagogue, we get what they want, and we simply become more enraged. There is a spiritual core to this political reality that is even more deadly.
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Pagan deities never expect responsible behavior. They expect gifts and pleas and worship, but not repentance and a renewed effort to become true. When the Children of Israel reverted to paganism – whether by making a golden calf in the desert or erecting Babylonian idols in their Temple – they chose a mirage to correct their circumstances instead of a real Father to correct and grow their character. This is the same spiritual issue that afflicts leftists when they make Barack Obama messiah and rightists when we invoke Ronald Reagan.
God requires justice to roll like a mighty river through His prophet Amos; this is a call to the whole people. Esther approaches the King of Persia to save her people; she accepts responsibility instead of waiting for someone else to accept it. Jesus does whatever He observes His Father doing and exhorts us to do likewise. If we are the solution instead of the problem, we let go of inchoate rage and begin working for justice – for all and not just the groups we favor – reckoning that when we do this, we need not ask God to join our side, for we will have joined His. The catch is that with involvement, we risk God modifying our perspective on right and wrong. He always wins.
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