I didn't get to catch "Twelve Years A Slave" when it was showing in the cinemas, so I decided to spend a part of my weekend watching the movie which got Lupita Nyong'o her Academy Award.
While I had a lot of favorite scenes to which I grimaced/winced at, what lingered in my memory the most was that scene where Bass (played by Brad Pitt) said:
"The law says you have the right to hold a nigger, but begging the law's pardon... it lies. Is everything right because the law allows it? Suppose they'd pass a law taking away your liberty and making you a slave?...[T]he law states that your liberties are undeniable? Because society deems it so? Laws change. Social systems crumble. Universal truths are constant. It is a fact, it is a plain fact that what is true and right is true and right for all. White and black alike."
While legalized slavery may have been abolished, parts of the world are still legislating inequality--making this statement relevant today as it was yesterday.
Last Tuesday, I was invited to "Revelations", a collaborative art exhibit which included the works of my friend Niccolo Cosme, at 71 Gramercy. It was a local celebration of the tenth year anniversary of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), an event highlighting the discrimination and violence still being faced by the the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
Despite the fact that it has been decades since the American Psychiatric Association struck homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, and that researchers have already observed homosexuality in animals, thus contradicting the assertion that it's unnatural, it's shitty to still hear news that LGBT people are still being stigmatized in places around the world: just recently in Brunei, a law was passed that made being gay punishable by death--taking a step backward with countries like Uganda and Nigeria, when it comes to human rights.
I think it's very easy to judge people and convince yourselves that you have a stake in their lives when and despite the fact that you are not in their position.
To share a story: my friend Gretch and I had a conversation last week, on the way to watch "Maleficent" in Greenbelt, about open relationships. She readily admitted that she couldn't grasp the idea of couples being romantically involved with other people, especially considering that she's very territorial and that she would probably fly in a fit of murderous rage on a regular day if it happens to her (just kidding Gretch, haha.)
Then again, after she met someone who was very vocal with being in a "non-traditional" setup that appeared to be just as healthy as any other "normal" relationship, she was quick to concede that at the end of the day, you really can't judge people when you're not experiencing what they're experiencing.
And I agree with her. I think it's very difficult comprehending people--anyone who could confidently say they perfectly understand how people are is likely delusional. (To quote Murakami in his short story: "I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom. All you can do is imagine by what comes floating to the surface every once in a while.") You can make assumptions, you can try to make sense of their actions and propose various scenarios which led them to act the way they did, but you should always make leeway for the things you can't see, the experiences you've never experienced, the emotions induced by particular circumstances which you may never feel.
We people like to fit stuff in categories: it's easier for us to process and navigate through a complex and convoluted world by defaulting to stereotypes--boxing everyone and everything into labels which we can easily grasp. While convenient at times, it also leads to its own set of complications. The best that could be done perhaps is to temper it only when one should, as overanalysis sometimes also leads to paralysis.
So the rule is, don't be a jerk, whenever you can.
Especially not to kids.
The world as it is is full of abusive parents and teachers--not to mention pedophiles lurking around waiting to bait little kids into pool parties with the promise that they'd be in the next X-Men movie, so we should at least give them hope that while it won't be rainbows and unicorns and dreams of stardom coming true once they get out in the real world, there is still good in the world to be hopeful about.
Last Saturday, My friend Set celebrated her birthday at Hospicio San Jose. She had been planning to do something different this year, and what better way to make it more fun than making kids happy?
I think we should try to be nice to children.
I might be wrong and perhaps a bit foolish when I say this, but I love to believe that the good we do to them echoes into the future. It is a tremendous generalization to say that, but I like to think that, as they are the ones who will be tomorrow's leaders and decision-makers, they will either perpetuate the mistakes the previous generation (us) are committing, or will change the world to be more empathetic to the troubles of other people and species.
Hopefully, it will be the latter than the former.
P.S. Yes, I purposely did not write my thoughts on "Maleficent". If you must, watch it for Angelina Jolie--and nothing else.
HELLO, MY NAME IS EVAN TAN.
I'm a writer and communications professional based in Manila, Philippines. Outside of my regular job, I like to travel, work out, volunteer, watch movies and plays, go to art galleries/ fairs and museums, read books, and eat vegetarian food.
More about me here.