Tag Archives: james Bond

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Skyfalls (Spoilers)

My Friends,
   Forgive me if this post is a little less than timely.  Life happened and I never got around to it.  In the past year (2012, for those reading this in a distant future) two movies came out whose similarities were made much of:

The Dark Knight Rises, and…
 
Skyfall.
 
I wish to jump on that bandwagon by doing my own comparison & contrast-ison.
   Now before I continue I want to point out that I am writing this blind in the sense that I haven’t searched out any other blogs, articles, or reviews which might be making a similar case, save for some of the initial reviews of Skyfall (those which gave me the idea for this post) that pointed out superficial similarities with DKR in regard to how dark they both were (Given that one of the films has “dark” in the title I think we can do much better than that).  So you will have to forgive me if someone else has already written these exact same things elsewhere because I never bothered to look.
 
First Off…
 
What’s Different About These Movies?
   For starters, everyone in Skyfall seems to have an inexplicably British accent, 
 
…well, most everyone…
 
…while just about everyone in DKR  seems to speak ‘Merican.
 
 Except him.*
 
So yes, there are serious linguistic differences in the film.
That just about covers the differences.
 
On to the Similarities:
   Compare & Contrast is a peculiar species of review which demands discretion, because any movie abstracted to a certain point is identical to any other movie abstracted similarly.  Like I would have a hard time saying that Billy Madison ripped off The Land Before Time if I compared the plots of the two films.  But if I abstracted both plots to their most essential details as follows,
 
Protagonist faces adversity
Protagonist struggles with adversity and meets new friends along the way
Protagonist overcomes adversity

you can see that Billy Madison is a direct rip-off of The Land Before Time which came out years earlier.  So I will try not to be too abstract when comparing the similarities between SF and DKR, but ultimately its not an exact science.

 
On to the Similarities For Realzies This Time

The Characters and Their Relationship to the Plot
   It seems to me that almost every main character in DKR has a parallel in SF.  Sometimes, one character from one movie has similarities to two or more characters from the other movie but still they function in largely the same capacity.  Let’s start with the easy one…

Bruce WayneBatman vs. James Bond

 
   The obvious comparison.  As protagonists, these two share a common arc involving a fall and a rise.  In the case of DKR, the focus of the story is redemption.  Bruce Wayne’s struggle is a largely internal one and questions about how (physically) ready he is to don the cowl after a lengthy sabbatical are more or less put to rest when he straps some hi-tech brace to his leg and kicks down a brick wall.
 
 
Later, when he is physically bested by Bane in their first match, we get the impression it is not because of any physical flaw, but due to some mental block which he overcomes while watching Gotham tear itself apart as he recuperates in the prison Bane sends him to.  As if to reinforce this point, Batman neatly, if not easily defeats Bane in fisticuffs in their next encounter. 
   In SF, Bond’s “fall” comes early on and it is a literal fall from a bridge after Moneypenny accidentally shoots him when he is fighting some douche-fag on a train in Istanbul.  He recovers from his apparent death pretty early on however, and unlike Bruce Wayne, he struggles more with the physical difficulties of getting back in the saddle than any emotional blocks or guilt.  (*This actually seems to be a consistent distinction between the two films: the struggles and repercussions in DKR tend to be more emotional and mental, while the struggles in SF are of a more immediate physical kind).  Still, we really only see Bond’s physical difficulties in his training montage.  When he goes back to active status he seems to fare pretty much the same as ever and the only give-away that he is struggling is when other characters allude to how old he is.
  Oh yeah, James and Bruce are also both orphans


Bane vs. Raoul Silva

 
   The two antagonists serve as dark mirrors to the protagonists in many ways.  What’s more importantly (sic.) is that in some ways you feel sympathy for these characters because both have been fucked over by The League of Shadows and MI6 respectively.  Of the two, Bane is definitely the more sympathetic even though his crimes could be considered worse.  Generating sympathy for a guy who wants to nuke a city of innocent civilians is an impressive feat to accomplish especially when his hulking, lumbering gorilla frame makes him seem a brute.  But then we have the revelation from Talia that it was she who escaped the pit, not Bane.  It was he in fact who protected her and facilitated her escape.  During the telling of this story the camera pans to Bane and we see this:
 
 
 
2:00-2:20 (You may have to view it on youtbe to see the tears clearly)
 
He’s not just a hulking lumbering gorilla, he’s a hulking, lumbering gorilla with feels.  
   And if we didn’t already feel bad enough for Bane at this point we then realize that he loves Talia but she at some point went and fucked Bruce Wayne.  The fanboys of the internet found this particularly offensive and have pointed out this injustice in their memes:
 
Bane, a sympathetic character if ever there was one
 
   While we don’t ever feel the same level of pity for Silva we do find out that M handed him over to the Chinese where he was tortured and unsuccessfully tried to commit teh suicides a la cyanide.  We start to think, “Wow, M is kind of a bitch and maybe, just maybe she deserved this guy coming after her and MI6.”  This potentially great conflict however is neutralized not long after it is introduced when M explains herself to Bond and justifies her actions for the greater good, explaining that Silva had become problematic in the field.  “Oh, so basically he is/was not justified in the least?  M is/was completely in the right and Silva is/was completely in the wrong?  ‘Cause that’s how real life conflict actually works…”  M’s explanation seems good enough for Bond who doesn’t question M’s leadership or choices and does not even seem to realize that but for the grace of M herself, he could be the next agent given up to an enemy nation.  Since a clear line between MI6’s good and Silva’s evil is drawn in the sand (and because he doesn’t cry while telling his story) it is hard to feel sympathy for Silva even though he has so much potential to be an interesting character.  
   But this lack of sympathy is a double-edged sword because I also don’t feel much disdain for Silva either.  Remember a few lines back when I said it was impressive that the creators of DKR make you feel sympathy for Bane even though he was gonna nuke Gotham?  Well, you would think that because Silva is ultimately less sympathetic that it would be easier to condemn him for his transgressions.  Buuut, I have a really hard time caring about his victims or his targets.  Let’s review them, shall we:
 
James Bond: Not even a primary target, just a guy who got in the way.  Also a sociopath whose chosen profession allows him to kill with impunity while he drapes himself with the flag and sings “God Save the Queen” to lull himself to sleep.  I am supposed to care about this guy who works in the shadows to maintain the hegemony of an empire with a legacy of murder and oppression around the globe?
 
M: An ice queen and bureaucrat who tries to keep fear alive in her country to justify her inflated position and salary.  Too dumb to realize that she should have turned over Silva to the Chinese with the caveat that they must kill him when done with him lest he come back for her and vengeance.  I don’t really care about this character.  
 
MI6: Uses up the tax dollars of the average working Briton and doesn’t divulge its secrets.  Its existence is predicated upon the fear of external threats and xenophobia.  
 
If you ask me, Silva should have used more explosives.
 
Severine: I cared so little for this character’s death that I actually had to look up her name.
 
When it comes down to it, the only victim of Silva I feel bad for is the glass of 50-year old Macallan scotch he wastes when he shoots Severine.
 
Evidently, Bond feels the same way.
SILVA, YOU BASTARD!!
 
On the whole I would say that Bane is more menacing as well as more sympathetic, while Silva (although creepy as fuck) doesn’t elicit a lot of hate or sympathy from me.  That said, both fill their respective roles in their respective films well enough because DKR is, like I already stated more about internal struggles while SF is more about action and therefore needs a less complex villain.  In fact, giving Silva any complexity at all is simply icing on the cake, so my criticisms of his lack of depth are given with an awareness that the same film series that produced Silva also produced Jaws
 
This guy is a regular fucking Hamlet.
 
Catwoman/Selina Kyle vs. Miss Moneypenny

 


   I find the greatest similarity between these two characters is not that they are both femme fatales, but the role they play in the fall of their respective protagonists.  In the case of Selina Kyle, she led Bruce Wayne down to the underground base where Bane accidentally his spirit and his body (sic.).  Moneypenny was a little more directly responsible for Bond’s downfall, y’know having shot him and all.  From a plot perspective I think Selina Kyle is more necessary to her film as it could have been any rookie field agent who shot Bond, or even a bad guy, but the fact that it was Moneypenny sets up a cool sexual tension and a grounds for flirting throughout the film.  There is definitely a romantic tension between Bruce and Selina Kyle as well, but it is less grounded in physical attraction and more a result of mutual fascination.
   Again, I have to point out here that this seems to be in line with the more internalized struggles in DKR versus the more physical ones in SF.  In fact, the relationship between Bruce and Selina never strikes me as particularly sexual at all, which is interesting considering that their relationship at film’s end seems perfectly natural and genuine.  This is important because there was high potential for their courtship to be glazed over and their romance assumed to be a given simply because he is the hot male lead and she is the hot female lead.  Also, Bruce fucks Miranda Tate after already being fascinated with and attracted to Selina.  This is great because its how romance works in real life; you can have a crush on someone and still bone someone else.  If Bruce had refused to bed Miranda cause he liked Selina and saw her as a fellow nightkin, it would have been unrealistic as hell.  Especially since, from a strictly sexual perspective, the tension between Miranda and Bruce was much more tangible at that point in the film, so boning made sense.  But carnal delights and sexual gratification have no place in a film about internal struggles and succumbing to temptation must be punished.  Want proof?  Look how their relationship ended:

   By film’s end both Selina and Moneypenny each have a retirement of sorts, with Selina (presumably) giving up crime and Moneypenny taking a desk job.  In a way this is kind of disappointing because both “retirements” really only serve to facilitate their continued relationships with their respective protagonists: Selina has to give up crime because Batman wouldn’t allow it (although in the comics, her bad girl streak is precisely what made her so alluring to Batman.  I guess since he’s no longer Batman by film’s end, all bets are off.), and Moneypenny had to give up field work because Bond couldn’t have another operative in the field always shooting at him and such.  Plus he needs someone to flirt with/wave his penis at tauntingly when he returns to HQ to get briefed.

Robin John Blake vs. Gareth Mallory/Miss Moneypenny


   I could probably abbreviate this criticism to be just between Robin and Mallory.  I only include Moneypenny in the comparison because who these characters really are/what they are to become is revealed (cheekily) at the end of the film.   That said, lets keep the comparison between Blake and Mallory.
  Blake as a lowly beat cop seems to butt heads with Deputy Commissioner Foley because of his willingness to circumvent the chain of command and his sharp instincts.  He saves Gordon’s life (twice) and is instrumental in helping the resistance in Gotham after Bane takes over.  Later, he throws his badge into the bay when he realizes that the structure of the police force cramps his “do what needs to be done” style.  At movie’s end he reveals himself to be Robin, finds the Batcave and presumably goes on to fight crime as Bruce Wayne’s replacement.
   Unlike Blake, Mallory starts off with some status, being the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee.  However, he still alludes more than once to his dickhead boss, the Prime Minister.  He ends up saving M twice, first when he gets the Intelligence minister to lay off during the review hearing, and then again when Silva tries to shoot her.  While he never abandons the establishment he is part of, he does show a willingness to flout the rules when he discovers Q unofficially assisting James in setting a trap for Silva.  By film’s end he reveals who he is to become, namely M’s successor at MI6

Lucius Fox vs. Q


   This one is a no-brainer, as every modern hero needs a gadget-guy (as well as a 1337 haX0r).  Q’s cheeky-as-fuck attitude and hipster fashion sensibilities are reminiscent of his older Gotham counterpart, but the similarities continue from there.  Both characters prove to be instrumental to the bad guy’s plan too, as Lucius’ handscan lets Bane access the fusion reactor and Q’s hacking allows Silva to escape from MI6’s emergency HQ.  After these respective fuck-ups though both turn their efforts toward stopping the bad guys, Lucius aiding the recently-returned Bruce Wayne when Gotham is under siege, and Q leaving a “trail of crumbs” for Silva to follow to Skyfall.   At film’s end both characters are still alive and while it is certain that Q will go on assisting Bond, we can only assume that Fox will help Blake when he eventually takes up the mantle of the Batman.  Otherwise why would he have been running a diagnostic on The Bat’s auto-pilot at film’s end?

Commissioner Gordon vs. M

  
   Both of these characters serve as quasi-parent figures in their respective film series.  You will remember that scene in Batman Begins when Det. Gordon protectively puts his coat around a recently-orphaned Bruce Wayne to comfort him at a police station.  Later on throughout the series, Bruce reports to Gordon as Batman, and while he doesn’t strictly take orders from him, he works collaboratively with Gordon where possible.
   Ditto for the relationship between M and Bond.  As far as a parental dynamic, Silva spells it out during his first meeting with Bond when he says,

Mommy was very bad,” 
 
about M.  And throughout the film James shows a steadfast, if rebellious devotion to M, which is in line with the parent-child dynamic.  Everyone calls her ‘Mum’ for shitsakes!
   The similarities between Gordon and M deepen though as both are plagued by past crimes.  In Gordon’s case it is guilt; the opening of the film almost sees him come clean about the circumstances regarding Harvey Dent’s death.  Later, when Bane outs him for lying about Dent, he tries to justify his actions to a disappointed John Blake.
   M on the other hand is haunted by past indiscretions in a much more tangible way by former operative Silva. 
 
 
I mentioned this distinction between the two films already; while the struggles in DKR are of a more emotional nature, the ones in SF are typically more in the form of direct physical threats with little emotional struggle.  To be fair, M does show some regret about having to give Silva up but she views things in Machiavellian terms, acknowledging that it was a necessity of her position and for the greater good.  Beyond this, she doesn’t let her past keep her up at night.
   There is one final similarity between Gordon and M which bears mention; both are explicitly referred to as relics of war-time who no longer belong in peace time  In the case of Gordon, this happens in the party at the film’s beginning when Foley is ambitiously plotting to become the next commissioner.  In the case of M it is at her hearing when the intelligence minister is criticizing her paranoia about the threats in the world.  It is sad that the paranoid types and symbols of war like Gordon and M are eventually vindicated by the events in their respective films, as it reinforces the message that constant paranoia and vigilance are how things should be and that we should be wary of peace of mind and a lack of fear.  I don’t know if the majority of viewers picked up on this sub-text but it kind of made me cringe.  It didn’t hamper my enjoyment of either movie too much because I realize that they are fictions, but we should really try and stay mindful that the good/evil duality is unrealistic and only works as a narrative tool.

   Two notable omissions from this character comparison are Talia/Miranda Tate and Alfred Pennyworth from DKR.  Although I mentioned Talia in passing I didn’t feel she had a direct parallel in SF, instead sharing similarities with many of the characters in the Bond film at various points in her character’s development.  In the case of Alfred, his disappearance at the beginning of the 2nd act seemed peculiar to me because abandoning Bruce did not seem in line with his character.  Certainly I could compare him to M in the way he chides/advises Bruce, or I could do a very complex reading and compare Alfred’s abandonment of Bruce to M’s abandonment of Silva, but ultimately SF was just more economical in its casting, so no matter who gets compared to whom, some DKR characters will not be paired up with anyone.

 
Miscellaneous Similarities
   Having gone on at length about character similarities, and in the process, plot similarities as well, it is time to have a little more fun and point out the random similarities.  While these are of a more superficial nature, it does make you pause and wonder if the creators were trading notes while developing their respective films.
 
Both films have a literal representation of their respective titles:
   
This is a dark knight ‘rising’
 
This is James Bond ‘skyfalling’
 
Both Batman and Bond mysteriously reappear to their “parent figures” after extended disappearances  to explain their absence and ultimately get back to work.
 
 

Both antagonists have fucked-up faces:

Both protagonists demonstrate proficiency for walking on ice:

Both protagonists seem pretty magnanimous toward the chicks who betrayed or accidentally shot them.

In a bit of role reversal, Bane’s troops take on the role of peace officers prior to the climactic battle, ordering the assembled GCPD to disperse.  This role-reversal is reinforced by Dep. Com. Foley as he and the other freed cops advance on city hall toward film’s end.

 
On a more superficial level, Silva and his men just dress like cops for their assault on M’s hearing.
 
 
Both villains have plans which involve getting captured at some point.
 
 
I almost missed it but DKR has some minor homo-eroticism as well in the form of Bane caressing Daggett.  This of course is nowhere near as pronounced as Silva and Bond flirting with each other in SF.
 
 
Well, that’s all I got.  Hopefully you didn’t hate it.  If there is anything large I missed please feel free to point it out.  If you haven’t seen either or both of thse films go check them out as they are both well worth it.
Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
*I didn’t put a joke about Bane’s muffled voice here because the claims about how difficult he was to understand seemed mostly overblown to me, and even worse it became an easy joke which could be made without thinking.  I try and keep the humour a little elevated here. 
 
 
 

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The Three Kings


“I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who”
-Rudyard Kipling, The Elephant Child
My Friends,
   With all due respect to Mr. Kipling I have found that there are three (3) questions which rank as being of primary importance in the world we live in.  These questions are sadly not asked frequently enough, and if they were asked more, answered honestly, and then the answers acted upon, we would live in a very different world indeed.  So, without further ado, let’s begin.
Why?
Watch 1:00 to 1:30

   The most frequently asked of these infrequently-asked questions, why is actually a prime example of a question almost universally not being answered satisfactorily and honestly.  Many Some of you may recall that I am fond of this question and especially the formulation of what I call a “why ladder” (“Logical Disgreement/Beyond Good and Evil,” 26 June 2012), where you essentially keep asking “why?” until the person either a) communicates the answer (root cause) if they know it, b) gives an answer of “I don’t know” if they legitimately don’t know and are honest about it, or c) anger.  I mistakenly assumed when I wrote that post that these were the only three outcomes when constructing a why ladder, but there is actually a fourth: circular reasoning.

   For example, I have this one friend with whom I often discuss matters with and I have realized that trying to communicate ideas with him is an uphill battle.  For whatever reason he doesn’t like to hear new ideas from me even if they are relatively self-evident or backed by science.  I could go on and on about his dated assumptions regarding so-called human nature, his high-esteem for the merits of drudgery, his sophomoric attempts to pass off something he learned in a lecture as the missing link to all human understanding, and of course his insistence that there is a feminist plot to enslave mankind, but that would simply be vindictive and a result of my bitterness about his many successful attempts to stymie my pursuit of logic.  In an effort to overcome his stubborn refusal to admit that I might (from time to time) know what I am talking about, I decided on a different approach; I would ask him questions, mostly “whys,” in an effort to lead him toward finding knowledge on his own.  I unfortunately sorely underestimated his anti-intellectualism, and I realized that he (shrewd asshole that he is), understanding what I was asking him and sensing he knew (unconsciously or otherwise) where I was going with it, would refuse to answer my questions honestly and would respond to subsequent whys with previously given answers.
Example:
Me: Well, you seem to feel that A is a problem, but what caused it? (why?)
Him: Well its cause of B
Me: Okay I see, but why does B exist as such?
Him: Cause of C
Me: Well, what conditions are in place (why?) that give rise to C?
Him: I already told you, its because of B!
   You see what he did there? B is both the cause of and a result of C.  How is this possible?  Well its not, but sadly such circular, self-referential reasoning is far too commonplace.  And whether it is religion, the social system we have, or some other deeply-held belief or value-system which people strongly identify with, everyone has a box in which they can not argue outside of.  For if they did acknowledge that the answer might lie outside of their cognitive comfort-zone it would open them up to the possibility that they might be mistaken about other things as well (God Forbid).  
   This is why I emphasize that these questions must not only be asked, but answered honestly.  After all, do we really think that it is some political party, or union, or criminal, or music genre, or violent video game which is the root cause of all of our problems?  Of course not, yet these irrelevant issues are constantly attacked as if overcoming them will make life better somehow, when in fact they are actually so removed from the life sequence of value as to be less substantial than a popcorn fart.
…a Final Word on “Why”

   For a long time Jeopardy has been my favourite game show.  I find the formula of “questioning answers” instead of answering questions to be an interesting take on the typical trivia format.  And as this post makes clear, I, like Alex Trebek, am a fan of people asking the right questions.  However, I have noticed that the questions contestants respond with are always in the format of, “who is ____?” or “what is _____?, or infrequently, “where is _____?”  I have never to this day seen a contestant answer with “why is _____?”  
   Think about that for a second.
   Now think of what kind of clue could be given to necessitate a response beginning with “why?”
“Why is our socio-economic system such an abysmal failure, Alex?”

Something tells me that such a question wouldn’t serve the purposes of Alex Trebek’s overlords at Sony Corporation.  That actually brings me to my next question…
   For those who don’t read latin, this translates to, “To Whose Benefit?”  This is an oft-unasked question because the answers can frankly be scary.  After all, people don’t want to think that someone benefited from a tragedy or crisis, but it holds true that this is often the case.  Don’t believe me?  Consider the following:
You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” -Rahm Emanuel

“All we need is the right major crisis…” -David Rockefeller

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.” -Warren Buffett

“Fortunes are made in recessions” -Anonymous

You see my point I hope.  Even outside of the financial and political realms this is true.  On an interpersonal level, I have been aware for some time that there is no such thing as bad news, just “news” and how you take it and use it is what matters.  For example, if you have a bit of a spat with someone or disappoint them it can rightly be seen as an opportunity to redeem yourself and find yourself in higher esteem than you would if you hadn’t gotten into a bad situation in the first place.
   When it gets scary is when you realize that some person or some organization of great means might actually effect a crisis in order to benefit from it.  This is colloquially called “conspiracy theory” but it is in reality the aforementioned law principle Cui Bono, handed down from the ancient-Roman legal tradition.  
Now its conspiracy … something that should not be even entertained for a minute: that powerful people might get together and have a plan.  Doesn’t happen.  Youre a kook, youre a conspiracy buff!!”
-George Carlin, relevant as always

   I think the truth in this question rests in the fact that regardless of your opinion on orchestrated tragedies, crises, etc., you have to concede that because we live in a competitive system, some person(s) must lose so others can win.  IN EVERY TRANSACTION!  After all, we can’t all be millionaires, right?
   Now go ahead and mull that point over for a sec because I want to make sure you are in agreement with that basic truism of our system before I go on, as my next point is predicated on it.
Seriously, think it over for a sec.  I’ll go watch porn for a few minutes.

   Are we all in agreement then?  Do you acknowledge that in a competitive system there has to be a loser for there to be a winner?  Good, because you must then also acknowledge the corollary, that there must be a winner to be a loser.  Think about that: every loss you have ever had has been a gain for someone else, usually a financial one.  Everything you dread, fear, or cower from is dollar signs for someone else.  Car breaks down?  Dollar dollar bills for the auto-service industry.  Loved one dies?  Pay-day for a mortician.  Terrorist attack? Foreign Belligerent? War?…
I’ll just leave this here…*

I really want to make clear that everything bad that happens, whether deliberately brought about or not, is profitable for someone.  When we start asking who benefits, we start to see the world in a much more honest, if sometimes cynical way.  But cynicism is the cult of the weak; a temple for those who feel indignant and impotent.  Much better to empower yourself…
What Would YOU Do?

   You have probably heard of this Jesus guy at some point.  People have in recent years pondered what he would do in any given situation.  We know they were pondering this because they wore cheap bracelets with W.W.J.D. inscribed on them:
I never had one but I think I’ll start bringing it back.

In any event, I don’t think most people would know what Jesus would do.  My respect for the man comes not from the bible but from an interpretation of his acts which I read in a non-violence class I took.  He was actually kind of a badass who seized upon the moral initiative, establishing himself as alpha-dog in social situations and pre-empting violent confrontation…
Well, MOST violent confrontation…

…with the strength of his presence, knowledge of self, and social clout.  But even if you possess my knowledge of the man (a knowledge which rivals that of any biblical scholar), and furthermore a knowledge of what he would do, that still begs the question: What would YOU do?
   Not such an easy answer, is it?  I think in our heads we mythologize Jesus and treat him as kind of a superhero; something unattainable.  In fact, that is missing the point; MY Jesus is the most accessible, down-to-Earth guy ever invented and he lived by a simple code.  Anyone can live up to the Jesus-code because it doesn’t ask more than anyone can give, but it does ask for all they can give.  
   Now I don’t want my admiration for and dick-riding of Jesus to get in the way of the point I am trying to make because nobody has to do what Jesus would do.  However, anyone who poses direct questions to themselves and finds honest answers finds themselves in the unique and lamentable position of no longer being ignorant.  And when you are no longer ignorant, a moral imperative arises, for you can no longer carry on the way you did in ignorance and keep a clean conscience.  When you know a behaviour is harmful or that you are contributing to a problem, it will gnaw at your conscience and peace of mind every time you engage in said behaviour.  We shouldn’t try to suppress this, for it is every fibre of our being telling us to do the right thing. 
   So what would you do?  Sometimes doing the right thing is passive, amounting to little more than abstaining from socially harmful behaviours.  Other times it is much harder, requiring difficult choices and actions.  But following the hard path, whether you want to call it the Jesus-path, the Gandhi-path, the MLK-path, the Zeitgeist-path or whatever, is much more satisfying, even if not rewarding in the superficial sense.  You know it from those times you did right by someone for no reward, or from those times when you intervened and prevented great tragedy from befalling someone.  And whether you call it altruism or enlightened self-interest, there is a feeling you get both from direct action and from making the right long-term choices which is the true meaning of life.  If this sounds preachy, its because it is: unqualified, uncompensated love for another human being is the greatest joy I have yet found. 
   
   ***
   
   I think if we ask honest questions of ourselves, both the first two questions  I posted and others, we come to certain truths rooted in natural law and universal human need.  And when we realize these truths, it is actually more difficult to resist the path of good than it is to follow it.  Let me say in closing that the hardest decisions I have ever arrived at were actually easy choices to make but difficult to follow through with.

Stay Thirsty,
-Andre Guantanamo
*Taken from the facebook group for the army regiment I belong to.


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