A Dangerous Comparison

Yesterday afternoon, John and I watched Life Is Beautiful a 1997 Italian language film which tells the story of a Jewish Italian, Guido Orefice (played by Roberto Benigni, who also directed and co-wrote the film), who uses his imagination and chutspa to help his son survive their internment in a Nazi concentration camp.

That is, we watched most of it. At a point, it simply got too hard to watch, and I was crying too much to stay with it. I became so overwhelmed that the story was real.

The thought that has been nagging me since watching the film is the wondering how one race of people could believe they were "the right ones." That they needed to get rid of all of the others.

Then, a scarier thought hit me. How many times have we heard this sentiment echoed? A counselman in a nearby city is on a personal mission to rid that city of illegal immigrants. And didn't you hear people after 9/11 float the solution that we should just "bomb them all?" Haven't you heard variations of it in religious circles? Groups--even as recently as 10 years ago--who felt the need to purge people out who didn't match where they thought their convention should go?

It occurs to me that when Jesus came 2000+ years ago, there was a bit of a disappointment. The religious leaders of the day were expecting a military revolt. Something that would rid them of the Romans.

Instead, they found a man who loved people. One who fed them. Who healed them. Who had a crowd put down the rocks when they were clearly caught in sin. And one who ultimately laid down His life in obedience because the Father who sent Him asked Him to. One by whom many of those "Romans" became believers because it was so transformational. (Doesn't it strike you as interesting that the Vatican is in Rome...the city that was responsible for arenas and lions?)

Actions and initiatives that aren't characterized with love for people don't bear consideration. And I'm not talking about "tough love." That is a recent construct. I'm talking about sacrificial love. The kind that sees others--no mater what--as better than ourselves. And more dangerous still, any initiative rooted in "purging" people is suspect. Even if they use the term "illegal immigrant."

1 comment

Anonymous said...

You know, I just read the first few paragraphs and I thought "this is still happening" just as you said. Here in Africa ALL THE TIME. It's just sad.
I cannot imagine what it must have been then for the Jews. I went to Poland (to visit a very very good friend of mine) and the remnants of the war, the concentration camps...it's just too sad

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Maira Gall