I finally got around to watching Blood Diamond yesterday. It's an incredible movie, but it made me sick. I knew about child soldiers, I knew about "short-sleeves or long-sleeves?", I knew about conflict diamonds and smugglers and a terrible civil war. I also knew about the Kimberly Process, which began as a result of the civil war in Sierra Leone, certifying non-conflict diamonds for concerned consumers. I even knew about the slowness of bureaucracy and the obsession in America with Hollywood-style scandal over real conflict (the movie references the Clinton-Lewinsky affair just before Freetown is overrun by rebel soldiers).
What made me sick, though, was realizing how horribly we deceive ourselves into thinking that, as human beings, we are basically good. What is good about war? What is good about bureaucracy? What is good about children being drugged, beaten, and brainwashed into submission until they will kill? What is good about a market (read: mostly American consumers) that demands cheap diamonds and corporations that will provide them, nevermind how they were acquired or who died to harvest them? At our core, we are a selfish, greedy, possessive, compulsive, irrational, lawless people who care only for ourselves and not for others. No matter how hard we try, we are incapable of doing lasting good. As Danny Archer (Leo's character) puts it so well, "Can God ever forgive us?"
Note: When I first wrote this blog entry, I included the closing below. After thinking it over, I would end without these last two paragraphs, because the soapbox gets in the way of the real point, the last three lines above.
~20 July 2007
Being the idealist that I am, I want so badly to believe that we're capable of making the world a better place. And I do still think that good can be done. But when we let ourselves believe that people are basically good, we're setting ourselves up for failure. People cannot be counted on to make selfless decisions. They simply can't. And neither can I! At my core, I have the same blind consumerism, the same selfish greed, the same ugly pride that catalyzes the most brutal of wars and the most devastating of conflicts. I AM NO DIFFERENT.
I don't know if anyone is even reading this blog or not but, if you are, I hope you come away slightly less disillusioned. If not, rent Blood Diamond and then get back to me. If that doesn't do it for you, try Hotel Rwanda or The Killing Fields or Schindler's List. Part 2 later this week (I hope!)...