we recently watched district 13, and its american remake, brick mansions. both were about the violent reactions of their heroes to the control the powerful have over the powerless. one may argue that the plots are formulaic, that the solutions provided are too simplistic, and that the makers of these movies are more concerned with providing vehicles for their action-figure stars that they are with dealing with real problems in a realistic way. yet, these are stories that cause us to think about the evil that we see being perpetrated in society.
in these movies, we see how those imprisoned in the ghetto that is district 13 have been made the scapegoats for all that is wrong in western culture. the same demonization is playing out in modern society when we hear those who have come here to escape persecution and economic deprivation in their own countries labeled as "illegal aliens," when we hear that these "illegals" are taking jobs away from "real americans." we hear this in the language of politicians and their supporters who refuse to help the employed when they call them "lazy," "slackers," or "takers." we see this in bills brought forward in congress that claim to be fiscally responsible while cutting gaping holes in the social safety net of the poor and disadvantaged. the constant harping about "obamacare" by many of our leaders while they fail to propose a more satisfactory alternative boils down to a view that only those who can afford to pay for health care deserve it.
as the income gap between the rich and the rest of society--already far out-of-balance--becomes greater and greater, the power of the wealthiest americans over the lives of the rest of us increases. recent supreme court rulings have all but turned our country into an oligarchy. too many americans have been taken in by the rhetoric of scapegoating, and it is much easier to find powerless minorities to blame for the ills of society than it is to find cures for those ills. we've seen where that sort of talk led in post-world-war-one germany.
may we see that there are real consequences for real people when the bottom line is made more important that worker safety and fair compensation. may we understand that for our western democracies to succeed there must be a social compact that includes everyone in the prospering of our economies. may we see that despite our differences in language, skin color, and economic position we are all the same, with the same desire to provide for ourselves and our families. may we stop the madness that is tearing the fabric of our civilization apart. shalom.