“Our beautiful yet delicate planet is at a crossroads. We can either continue to relate to each other with a tribal mentality in which we emphasize the distinctions between us, or we can pierce the mask of duality and embrace our underlying unity. The first choice inevitably leads to conflict, xenophobia and ecological devastation. The second holds the promise for peace, compassion, and the honoring of our interconnectedness with the web of life.”
– Deepak Chopra in his forward to David Simon’s The Ten Commitments: Translating Good Intentions Into Great Choices 

I have long been a fan of film and would like to share with you a treasure that the library has to offer, that perhaps not everyone knows about, or has had time to experience. Most films on dvd now have special features that often includes a commentary by the director, which brings huge insights into how and why the film was made as it was.  After having watched the film as a theatrical release, I have found that these extras greatly enlarge my understanding and appreciation of the film.

One film that I would encourage everyone to see, in this dual way, is Unsere mütter, unsere väter  = Generation War.  The film was originally presented as a mini-series in Germany and it has been met with wide praise and multiple awards. The film is note-worthy for addressing the delicate taboo of what the experience was like for the then 20-something Germans under Hitler, who are now the Grandparents of the current 20-something generation.

The film centers around the overwhelming and unexpected dilemmas faced by 5 good friends- 2 brothers, 2 young woman and the Jewish boyfriend of one of the girls. As you come to know and care about these ‘eager for the future’ young men and women, it is easy to forget that we are talking about soldiers and their loved ones during the Nazi Regime. The film focuses on the desperate struggle of the Germans in facing the Soviet offensive and the terrible price that war extracts, from everyone, enemy or friend. Their lives are the the living experiences of what has become the iconic “Enemy”. And yet, it is easy to care for them, and want safety and an end to pain for them.

The action scenes are as tense, as nail-biting and as startling as anything filmed by Spielberg.  Moving, challenging, amazing and truly breathtaking. Our emotions are tugged between loyalty and betrayal, the deepest genuine friendship and harsh, brutal dead-eyed, stone-faced cruelty, as well as the desire to protect our loved ones at the price of risking our own survival. There are no easy choices and no easy answers. There is pain and loss whatever side you are on.

What kind of world do we have? What kind of world do we want? Where do we put our hope and expectations?

The film encourages me to do what I can, within my own sphere of influence. To demonstrate kindness, compassion, patience, acceptance of differences and personal efforts towards peace within my own world. Whatever the enemy: the Nazis – or The Empire – or ISIS – religious differences or racial divides, we have it in our power, within our personal lives,  to rise above our differences, embrace our common ground and humanity, “and embrace our underlying unity and the honoring of our interconnectedness with the web of life.”