Last night I watched one of my favourite movies Thor (it’s either Kenneth Branagh’s excellent directing and storytelling or Chris Hemsworth’s gorgeous face and well-toned body that attract me, I’m not sure). Anyway, the movie provided an excellent example of the perils of responding to a situation from a warrior mentality. About to be crowned the new king by his father Odin, the ceremony is disrupted by the transgressions of a few of the ‘baddies’ from the old enemy state with whom Odin’s nation has forged a precarious peace for a generation.
Thor rushes in with his warrior solution
As a matter of honour, and to teach them a lesson, young brave invincible Thor and a few comrades, pay the neighbouring enemy lands a visit …. against the wishes of wise old Odin. After a confrontational conversation with the baddie king who tries to persuade them not to start what he thinks they can’t finish, they almost get away quietly without too much damage after …. until some idiot calls Thor a ‘princess running home’. Well that’s it! Thor cannot take this slur on his manhood, blood boils and mayhem results. Feeling the reverberations, Odin rushes in to rescue his son but such is the damage that war is now declared.
Odin is so furious at Thor’s stupid ego, pride and bloodlust, which leaves little room for considered thought or wise responses, that he banishes him without his powers. Well that is the movie opening and the story continues with Thor dropping down to earth and coming to terms with the devastating results of his actions, eating humble pie and meeting the beautiful gorgeous physicist Natalie Portman. Once he has learnt his lessons, Thor does actually reclaim his powers and returns victorious to save his father and the kingdom, and also overthrow his treacherous brother whose jealous subterfuge set the whole ball rolling in the first place.
The lesson is: wisdom wins the day.
In the last scene Odin and Thor reflect on the warrior courage of his son and the better man, and potential king, he has become through his humbling experience where he learned the value of other skills in addition to the force and power he previously wielded with his magical, super-hero strength hammer. Young Thor says “I have much to learn” from Odin “I know that now”. The lesson is: wisdom wins the day. Oh if this was not just a Hollywood movie and we could confront some of our most treacherous situations in the world with more of Odin’s wisdom and a bit less of Thor’s courage, bravery and fighting spirit.
Syria is not a mythical place and what is happening there is absolutely horrendous. But it appears, as has been proved so many times in international politics, nothing is ever black or white and nothing is as it seems on the surface. Surely there is room for greater creative dialogue rather than resorting to missile strikes which will inevitably kill more people than have already been killed by chemical weapons? And the majority of victims of war and conflict are women and children.
Can we not create some dialogue situation that involves a majority of women? I favour sending in women like Antoinette Tuff (the woman who talked a crazed gunmen out of killing children in a school last month – see my previous post on The Power of One Woman on the woman-at-large blog) to have inspired conversation with the perpetrators … let’s see whether it gets us anywhere different. For many reasons we cannot afford another war. It’s about time we learn to handle challenges and conflicts in a different way with a deeper understanding of what motivates people and why they create the agendas they do. We have to start looking for other wise options.