Thursday, December 4, 2008

Judge not, that ye be judged

“Who are these losers?” I asked myself 15 minutes into the 2007 documentary, Confessions of a Superhero. The film tracks the lives of a rare breed of pan handlers crossed with superheroes located on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Dressed as superheroes of their choosing, they coax passersby into getting a picture with them in return for a tip. The film focuses on four of these faux-heroes' backgrounds. Each has the cliché background of moving to Hollywood with hopes to hit it big, only to get stuck there with an undesirable job. The catch is that the occupation is in one sense so close to the dream – getting into costume and playing a role – but in another sense, so far – begging pedestrians for spare change.

Confessions of a Superhero is a great film in how it digs into these characters rather than skimming the surface with high profile interviews and related late-night talk show items. In their own individual ways, each character has a yearning that we can all relate to. They each have failings that we can all relate to as well. They’ve dreamed so large, yet hit reality so hard. Perhaps, at the least, they’re not losers after all.

Judge not, that ye be judged” – This is the only thing I really got out of the Bible, but it stuck hard. It’s easy to judge and to cast off. Yet it fosters an attitude of arrogance. A state where no one feels that they should listen to the other. It’s impossible to truly withhold judgment, but acting heavily upon such judgments, I find, confines my mind into a corner. Why should I bother with other people if so many of them are below me? We're influenced heavily by those around us. We're built that way. To shut your mind off from those around you is to block yourself from a human essential. To shut your mind off mentally from those around you, you might as well shut your body off physically from those around you.

One of many products after millions of years of evolution, most people are not so different from one another, and they may not be so different from one another as to warrant judgment, at least, judgment in any grand sense. Looking from the outside-in, we have similar characteristics, builds, purposes, mechanisms. Surely one individual isn’t universally better than another. Any such judgments made are just on a trivial subjective scale, be it in terms of preferences, personality, money, education, colored heavily by culture. People from cultures other than your own often look alike because you don't have the cultural tools to pick them apart. So are people across all cultures: similar.

This is what democracy is built upon. “That all men are created equal.”

People are an economy’s best asset – particularly in their most free and unbridled form possible. It’s telling that Einstein escaped persecution as a Jew in Nazi Germany (his work ridiculed as Jewish Physics) in order to eventually help America defeat the Axis. Perhaps if Nazi Germany had been more welcoming to Jews, he could have helped them defeat America. But then again, had Nazi Germany been more welcoming to Jews, it wouldn’t have been Nazi Germany, and we’d be talking about something else not World War II.


Media (in order of appearance)

Photo: (1) Confessions of a Superhero movie poster; (2) Einstein portrait.

Video: (1) Trailer for the 2007 documentary Confessions of a Superhero, 10/10/2007, from Arts Alliance America channel.
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