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Month: August 2010 (page 1 of 2)

oppressor and victim, victim and murderer?

Paradise Now directed by Hany Abu-Assad is the kind of film that reminds one that the story we hear in western media is but one story, and an aggregate political one at that. It is not the story of individuals–of the people living in the midst of daily conflict, of occupation, oppression, and fear. This film struck me with its humanity as it told the story of two Palestinian childhood friends who one day were chosen to embark upon the unthinkable. Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman) grew up together in a West Bank refugee camp, and endured a life of limited movement, check points, intimidation, antagonism, and humiliation. The film, while adopting the perspective of Said and while arguably “pro-Palestinian”, seems to move beyond the typical political platitudes and gets past the polarizing effect of similar films. Instead Paradise Now gives us something more authentic–an honest view of what happens to lives under the pressure of occupation. The film offers insight on what drives a person to self-destruction as a final futile attempt to live a life of dignity.

At the start of the film, Said and Khaleb are selected for a suicide mission to Tel Aviv, which holds the promise of martyrdom and great honor. Over the next 36 hours, Said and Khaleb prepare for and embark upon their mission, only to have it disrupted long enough to ask the questions of their lives. In the scene embedded below, Said has just returned from the failed mission. Wanting to try again, he explains why he cannot return to the refugee camp.

Scene from Paradise Now

“A life without dignity is worthless.” That’s the premise that underpins Said’s argument in this scene. A life where dignity is systematically removed is made to feel worthless, a life without meaning, without hope, without home. Nashef’s performance is top-notch here and it is top-notch throughout the film along with support from Suliman. This film is artfully rendered and reminds us all that perspective is everything. What many have come to accept through mainstream western media does not fairly represent the stories of individuals (on any side of any conflict)–mostly good people in desperation to live good and free lives.

happy birthday, aidan

Aidan turned 7 this week and we’ve been in a state of celebration. My how time flies. It feels like just yesterday when we were in the stressful throws of an emergency C-section after a series of scary heart decelerations. As it turns out, he was [singlepic=784,250,250] Aidan, 4 days oldsqueezing his own umbilical cord in his little hand. We knew from that point that we’d be in store for more than our fair share of mischief from our little guy. Aidan was born eight weeks premature, and this was one of the scariest times of our life. Being so premature, there was a danger that his lungs would not be fully developed. Just prior to the C-section, they gave him steroids to rapidly develop the lungs to help avoid the scary possibility of some very serious problems. He weighed 4lbs 8oz when he entered the world–quite large actually for a baby eight weeks premature. (He was on track for being a huge baby if we went full term.) While we spent six weeks in the hospital with Aidan, he never needed a ventilator (just a CPAP, which is scary enough). He came home on a heart monitor as his heart tended to slow to dangerously low levels in the night. Let me tell you, [singlepic=785,300,300] Aidan, 7 years oldthere is nothing more terrifying than waking in the middle of the night to a screaming alarm indicating that you baby’s heart is not beating as it should. (Of course, this was almost always just a monitor lead that slipped off, but these were the days when I got all my gray hair. And I thought I’d be able to spread it out through Aidan’s teenage years.)

So, it’s seven years later and Aidan is doing just great. He’s a healthy, energetic (oh, so energetic) young boy filled with passion, love, and joy. We celebrated his birthday last week with his cousins and grandparents. We made hoops in the backyard and everyone (except grandma and grandpa) gave them a whirl. Aidan opened presents (he loved his stuffed animals most of all), and we all ate triple-chocolate ice cream cake. I even plucked out happy birthday on the guitar for him. (I’m just learning.)

On his actual birthday (midweek), Aidan wanted to go to a nearby water park for a day of water slides and drifting along the lazy river. It was a great day. They all are.

Happy birthday, Aidan. We love you.

books, books, and more books

Aidan loves books; simply loves books. So we read all the time. While he does like doing his own reading he’s still learning so reading to himself goes slow, often slower [singlepic=775,350,350] Aidan with mom outside the librarythan he wants. But fortunately he still enjoys me reading to him! This is a time that I really cherish each day–snuggling together, him with his blue blanket me with a cup of coffee, and we read sometimes for hours a day.

While we read a lot all throughout the entire year, Aidan likes reading in the summer. The reason is because this summer, like summers past, Aidan has participated in the summer reading program at our local library. This program is one in which you record the hours spent with books–reading to yourself, having someone read to you, or listening to audio books. There are sheets to record your hours, and after each sheet is turned in kids get small prizes (e.g. a plastic ring, a bendable rubber alien, bookmarks, etc.) throughout the summer. At the end of the program “grand” prizes are awarded to the readers with the highest hours. Aidan has won larger prizes in the years past, and today we found out that he won again for his age range. Eighty-four hours of reading for the past month and a half! He was thrilled to receive a huge Indiana Jones Lego set, a t-shirt, and a few coupons to local places, but even more then being excited about the prizes he was very proud of himself. And Mike and I were also proud of him and very happy for him!

Now off to do some reading! :)

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