Keep Calm and Watch Fury.
Share your thoughts at the end of this post.
With recently heightened “suspense” from Donald Trump as we near the end of this election, it’s worth reminding ourselves of why populism, group think, and mob (or mobster) rule don’t work. For this reason, I suggest hosting a Movie Night Pre-Election Party featuring the 1936 drama and thriller, Fury.
I showed Fury to my former students and parents on Oct. 22nd. (The date’s significance is apparent when you see the movie.) The film was well-received by these teens and young adults who had never heard of Spencer Tracy. For the themes it raises are as relevant now as they were then and might always be.
Here’s the excellent review that appeared in the New York Times in 1936!
Am I comparing the film to what could happen were one of the candidates and his/her supporters to become fury-ous with the election results?
The fictitious characters, locations, outsiders, scapegoats, triggers, and social media in the film may all be different —in form — from the real names and places appearing on today’s stage, but underneath, the same “nervous energy” can motivate a mob. Perhaps more important than the pretext, as director Fritz Lang shows us, is the nature of the aftermath — the deep shadows that can surface for victims, perpetrators, communities, nations, and even the world, when reason succumbs to fantasy and truth to lies.
We are no less susceptible to lynchings then as we are now —digital or otherwise—, whether they begin with whispers or with tweets.
Because Fury shines a light on our individual and collective responsibility for law, order, and above all, moral integrity, it also reveals our failures. In this regard, it reminds us of the timeless virtue of forgiveness — for others and for ourselves. For all the fury in Fury, there is an equal and opposite force to forgive. But, like fury, forgiving is a choice. So I hope you don’t mind me sharing a video link to a program I led on the practice of forgiveness. I wonder:
Could reconciliation and forgiveness be practical tools to heal not only past trauma but prevent future ones? If so, what could our country look like moving forward from this election? And can we hope to begin where Hollywood ends?
Fact and Fiction
Finally, I want to draw attention to the way fact and fiction can cultivate either fury or forgiveness, a world of revenge or a world of joy. It’s worth sharing this excerpt from author Chris Anderson, head of TED.
“…a speaker has to go to where a listener is and say, Come, let’s build something together. The speaker must show why the idea is worth building. There is a reaching out. An appeal to shared values, desires, hopes, and dreams. In certain circumstances this process is terribly abused. A crowd can be whipped up. Hatred inflamed. False views of the world can be propagated as real. But in history this has always happened when, at least to some degree, listeners are shut off from the rest of the world. The appeal that is being made by the speaker is not universal, it is tribal. It is us versus them. And crucial facts are hidden from these listeners. But when we’re more closely connected — when people have full visibility of the world and each other — something different starts to happen.”
As our identities expand to include the 7.4 billion people interconnected on this planet, we need to be sure that everyone benefits from this transformation. When we tap into the interspiritual experience of goodness, truth, and beauty, humanity advances. Maybe then, we won’t need to worry about fury.