Sunday, December 30, 2007
Why you must see Kite Runner
Ok - So I may have too much to say on this topic so only read if you are ready for my soap box....
I have read The Kite Runner twice and it is one of my most favorite books. (I also really loved and was moved by A Thousand Splendid Suns - by the same author). Yesterday I went to see the movie with my mom and sister. I have heard some people say they don't want to see the movie or read the book because it sounds so depressing. And, in fact there are are some heart breaking events and it can be depressing. But, I don't think that should stop you. In fact, I think it is a MUST read and if you have time you should also see the movie (but read it first). It is really such a beautiful story that teaches us about friendship, loyalty, forgiveness and redemption. The main character, Ali, is told "there is a way to be good again." Isn't that what we believe if we believe in a loving Heavenly Father and Savior. We can be good again. We may pay a horrible price for our sins - that is justice - but there is also mercy and forgiveness. One of the challenges of this movie is to reflect on your own life. Surely many of us have faced nothing even close to the social class issues, war, displacement, or terror found in this story but we are all parts of a society and network of friends. What kind of friend are we? Are we only nice to some friends when no one else is around? Do we take advantage of the loyalty our friends offer us? Do we have the courage to stand up for what is right - no matter what? Do we defend our values - specifically the issue of decency? Do we make things right when we have messed up or do we let it destroy valued relationships?
Another reason this book and movie are so important to me is that I think we have a responsibility to be aware of the conditions of the world around us. I know that I was completely unaware of Afghanistan before 1978 and the Afghanistan during Taliban rule. Certainly I had heard things about the Taliban but I didn't really pay attention. This book makes it so real. And because we still have soldiers there we must know what they are up against. I love the way the movie shows how beautiful Afghanistan and its people were prior to the invasion of Russia. It is certainly not fair nor accurate to think of all Afghan people as the Taliban would have us believe.
A third reason that I think we should read this book and see the movie (this is starting to sound like an essay) is that we need to be more aware of the plight of refugees. What a challenge to leave the land you love and have to start over somewhere new. Start over where no one understands your language or customs or makes efforts to understand where you came from and the terror you must have faced to sneak you family out. We forget that they are intelligent, capable, talented, compassionate people who probably served their communities in great ways before they had to leave (obviously this is an generalization). Yet, we see Baba jan and Ali work so hard. Baba jan, despite being a gas station employee, keeps his decency and works hard, as he did before.
This holiday season, I was asked to be involved in a sub-for-santa type project for a refugee family from Burma. Their country has forced the Karen people to leave or be killed. This particular family arrived in Utah in September with nothing but their 5 children (age 2 - 16). They need so much. I loved being a part of the incredible generosity of so many. A group of youth and leaders were able to deliver piles of gifts for each family. I didn't get to be there, but I hear that they were so happy and probably overwhelmed. I know that youth involved were significantly impacted by the experience of being there and giving during the season of so much getting. At a recent concert I went to (The Gift - Peter Breinholt, Ryan Shupe and Sam Payne) I was touched by something Sam Payne said, "Service rendered during this time of the year, saves lives." He was the recipient of of some lifesaving service at Christmas as a boy. We have an opportunity to do that right here in Utah - whether with our neighors in need or the many refugees living here in Salt Lake.
As I looked online for some pictures, I found the greatest website with an entire curriculum for teaching The Kite Runner, the history of Afghanistan and the issues of human rights. Too bad I am not teaching any high school history classes right now. So, since I am not - if there is a teacher out there reading this - go to this website and see if you can incorprate some of this into your curriuclum. It is really well done and comprehensive. http://participantproductions.com/kiterunner/KiteRunnerlow.pdf
So...after that little spiel - I hope it wasn't too much. I hope you will read the book and support the movie. I hope you will think about these issues. And respond to this--tell me what you think of the book and the movie.
-Note - It is PG-13 and the scenes you might be worried about are not quite as graphic as you might be afraid they could be. They are certainly upsetting but they don't show as much as you might think.