Violence in the 21st Century: in practice and in film

Over the past 10 years, America has been involved in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What began on September 11, 2001 had now drug on nearly a full decade. In our world of instant-gratification and 30-second sound bites, Americans quickly tired of the constant coverage of these conflicts and the continued concerns of additional conflicts in the Middle East.

The search for the ‘mastermind’ of the 2001 attacks ended two weeks ago when US Forces stormed a compound in Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden; he had apparently been living there  more than five years. As the news of his death swept across Twitter, Facebook, and eventually the news media with final confirmation from President Obama via a late press conference, Americans around the world rejoiced/denounced the killing. With his death, a feeling of relief swept across the country. For once, a task that had begun shortly after those attacks was completed. Many joked we should break out the “Mission Accomplished” banner made famous by President Bush in 2003.

With bin Laden’s death, many hoped it would bring some relief to the families of those who lost loved ones throughout the past ten years. However, the wars continue in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Just this week, a young man from Nashville was killed in Afghanistan while serving his 4th or 5th tour. The sacrifices our men and women are making abroad are not in vain, but the longer this war stretches out, the more difficult these losses are to accept.

On Saturday, I took some time during the day to go see “In a Better World” at the Belcourt in Nashville. The film won Best Foreign Film at the Oscars and Golden Globes early in 2011 and was directed by Susanne Bier (Things we Lost in the Fire, Brothers, After the Wedding). The film discusses violence and how our response to violence impacts others. How the characters reacted to violence around them leads them to decisions that will test their beliefs. On a side note, I love Susanne’s work, and this might be her best yet.

The film lays out a few options for handling violence, but the conclusion I draw is that there is no way to eliminate violence in our world. Where evil exists, violence will always exist. Whether or not we choose to be violent will only prolong the inevitable. When we look back at the wars we are fighting in the Middle East, I hope we can understand that our involvement was inevitable.


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