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Understanding Utopia

The Invasion is the 2007 film featuring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, the latest actor to play the venerable double “O” agent James Bond, in yet another interpretation of the 1958 movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  In this version, an alien life form that resembles some kind of virus attaches itself to the space shuttle Patriot before it terminates orbit.  As it reenters the atmosphere it disintegrates in space shuttle Columbia fashion and crashes back to Earth.  The debris field stretches from Texas to Washington, D.C., is two hundred miles wild, and this entire area becomes infected with the alien virus.  Many people become infected and are eventually robbed of all their emotions when they fall asleep.

Nicole Kidman plays the heroine Dr. Carol Bennell.  On her way to work in her private practice as a psychologist, Carol notices that the other commuters are behaving differently.  Instead of being their usual animated and chaotic selves, most people are commuting in a very orderly, composed fashion.  When she finally arrives at her office she remembers what one of her patients said about her husband behaving differently.  Carol searches the web for similar responses and finds a number of people with similar stories to tell.  She then embarks on an adventure to find and protect her son Oliver played by Bond, Jackson Bond.

Daniel Craig plays Carol’s love interest Dr. Ben Driscoll.  Ben has a friend, Dr. Stephen Galeano played by Jeffrey Wright, who is a biologist studying the virus and trying to develop a cure with a group of scientist protected by soldiers on a secure military base.  But before the cure is discovered, Ben succumbs to the virus infection.  Carol is infected as well but refuses to fall sleep until she can find safety for her son.  Eventually, changed Ben meets unchanged Carol in a climactic scene.  Other than the scientist working on the cure back at the base, the only people we know who are not infected are Carol and her son.  Ben has a number of infected people with him to help him capture her.  He tells Carol what the future holds for humanity, a future free of strife and conflict where everyone works in harmony.  He describes a perfect world, and the only price is our humanity.

The situation looks hopeless, until it was not.  Eventually, in typical Hollywood fashion, good old humanity prevails!  Carol shoots everybody trying to stop her and her son and she’s able to escape.  She kills everyone but Ben, who she maims with a bullet in his knee cap.  The scientists find the cure and the soldiers from the military base find and save Carol and Oliver.  Everyone who survives is returned to normal with no memory of being under the influence of the alien virus.  And at the end of the movie, just before the credits start to roll, we see Ben reading a newspaper with the headline “Business As Usual” on the front page that was covered with stories of war and violence.

The virus invasion promised humanity peace and harmony at the expense of emotion.  Everyone capable of being infected would become emotionless free of anger, hate and all the other negative emotions, but also free of love, happiness and any of the positive emotions as well.  The ending of this movie is supposed to make us question are we truly better off with our emotional baggage attached?  In order for a utopian society where there is no poverty, no crime, no war, and everyone working for the benefit of mankind would we be willing to give up our distinct sense of self that truly makes us unique as individuals?  Would we be willing to give up our existence outside the orthodox in order to have everyone accepted?

Here in America the idea of everyone having everything they need, everyone existing at a level that is more in line with everyone else, the idea of less disparity and more equality, is a frightening, unwelcomed proposition.  In the wake of arguments before the Supreme Court to determine if the healthcare reform plan is constitutional, too many of us would prefer individuality and the get it if you can afford type of healthcare that is the norm for America instead of a system that truly protects everyone.  Too many of us prefer the inequality that allows one person to amass billions of dollars while millions suffer through poverty.

No matter where you look in America there is disparity woven into the fabric of our society.  We protect disparity at the expense of equality.  We seem to thrive on conflict.  We focus on the needs of only a fraction of our population instead of looking at the bigger picture that can benefit the greatest majority possible if not all.  We welcome disparity under the guise that socialism for all is an affront to capitalism for the wealthy. Anything else is dismissed as class warfare.  And the non wealthy people who work to protect this system of disparity do so with the belief that it is okay as long as there’s somebody worse off than they are.  Disparity is tolerable for many of us at the bottom as long as they know that there is someone else more negatively impacted than they are.  Misery loves more miserable company.

At the end of the movie The Invasion I came away asking myself what was the big problem.  The people who were infected didn’t give up their will or their ability to make their own decision.  They continued to go to work and to function as a community.  In fact, it was the fact that they operated as a more cohesive unit willing to sacrifice themselves for others that made the infected a more formidable opponent.

In the movie, the people who were infected never killed anyone.  Even when the Nicole Kidman character was fatally shooting the people trying to capture her they never returned violence.  They were simply looking to bring her into the fold.  As they were being shot down one after another, the others simply continued to move towards the goal.  They sacrificed themselves for each other without fear.  And as the bible says, no higher expression of love could be given than when a man is willing to lay down his life for friends or his country (John 15:13).

If nothing else the alien virus depicted in this movie turned our hate and fear of each other into the utmost extent of love for each other.  Sure it looks scary to have somebody or something come along and forces us to change how we interact with our neighbors against our will.  But if there is ever a case of the end justifying the means then this is a sure fire example of it.  We truly may not understand utopia when we see it with our own eyes.  Humanity’s utopia may be far too strange for most of us to embrace it.

Friday, March 30, 2012 - Posted by | Life, Racism, Thoughts

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