Barbara, on Sep 7 2008, 12:05 AM, said:
Please understand that I am in no way using any type of tone here at all. I'm just commenting on your post. I apologize if you only wanted EE to answer. I'm fairly new here and was under the impression that anyone could comment on what was posted previously.
It's fine to comment on something in my post you find interesting because that's how these message boards keep going, it's also fine to disagree with me and take me to task, but it's not fine to suggest that I'm insulting anyone's beliefs because that couldn't be further from the truth.
I'm also not uncomfortable. I just disagree with your assessment on Shinzon's heart and inner struggle. Both of our opinions are based on what we believe is the basis of human life, growth, and survival. I believe that we are born with an inner clock that spells out good and evil from the day we enter this world. That means that my opinion of Shinzon is going to be based on that foundation.
That's the problem I have with this belief ~ it's far too rigid and it's overly optimistic, but also it carries with it the notion that if people do wrong, they have somehow either "chosen" to ignore that inner clock or that they are in some other way "faulty". Again, if you can reductively dismiss people's actions as a choice on every occasion then you ignore every other factor in their lives that could have made a difference to the way they think and operate, and this in my opinion is dangerous, because it's treating the symptons but not the cause.
Here, you are in fact taking up Picard's position: you are basing your views on your beliefs and the way you have experienced life and then applying them to humanity in general.
Seeing that I've lived my entire life in the USA, I can only speak from my experience here. I have seen tremendous outpouring of love and kindness by total strangers to total strangers. Recently: The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center buildings - thousands upon thousands of strangers - poured resources, time, money, opened their homes, gave food, supplies, prayers, support and much more. The Katrina storm - thousands of people displaced. I witnessed thousands of people who opened their homes, donated time, money, clothes, supplies for total strangers. I could go on: earthquakes, tsunamis, world tragedies. Human beings do care about the well being of strangers - and definitely when we know it cannot be reciprocated.
Well we had 7/7 over here and I've no doubt that there were a number of acts of kindness extended to total strangers on that day too. I didn't live through the Blitz, but my parents and my grandparents did, and the stories of help and kindness are legion. BUT, I've also known times when it was a risk to go to London in case I got ripped apart by an IRA bomb like hundreds of others have been in the past, and my mother has personally witnessed people on the streets of New York collecting money to fund the IRA to do precisely this. Seemingly, for every action there is an equal and an opposite, so I can't subscribe to your notion of inner clocks because clearly those members of the IRA had been indoctrinated into believing that every innocent Brit on the UK mainland, and anyone else who didn't support their cause, deserved to be blown to pieces.
In the case of Hurricane katrina, it was certainly in the news here that, besides the acts of heroism and community spirit, there was also an awful lot of looting, incidences of brutality, and a not particularly quick response from your government. But then again, I was really talking about how people operate in the everyday, and not how human pity and empathy wrenches people into action when a disaster occurs.
Like Shinzon, IRA terrorists believed in their actions because they believed in their cause, and any allegedly hardwired in notions of right and wrong were clearly and firmly shoved to one side, even in the face of knowing that it is the avowed intention of most governments in the world not to give in to terrorism. They chose to use bombs ~ an indiscriminate weapon in order to try and force their point of view.
In the movie - Shinzon was the ultimage stranger to Picard. Known by him and unknown as well. Picard reached out to help him not only because he knew him in one regard, but also because he didn't know him.
The part he didn't know was Shinzon's background. He couldn't put himself in Shinzon's shoes because it was beyond his ability to do so. All he had to go on was actually the very brief description Shinzion gave him at the dinner, and it would be hardly enough to go on in terms of understanding how corrosive racsim and slavery can be. Here I warmly recommend two texts by American writers who articulate these points far better than I can: William Styron's contraversial The Confessions of Nat Turner
offers a treatise on the corrosive effect of racism and slavery upon the human soul until revolt and revenge seem to be the only options, and James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time
about how the pressures of being black and living in Harlem in the 30's and 40's, made choice something of far off aspiration for most people regardless of what they knew as right and wrong.
They know, as we all do, that people get away with "murder" (as we say). They still choose to do wrong - it's their choice. Shinzon's weakness is that he, too, believed he could pull this off even when he was getting careless.
The fact is that he couldn't control the getting careless and I still dispute your notion that he knew he was doing wrong within the moral continuum which he has experienced. Shinzon's notion of "wrong" comes soley from how he
feels about the way he was treated by the Romulans and yet, he sees them getting away with it for the entire period of his life. Beyond that, there has been nobody in his life to draw him a moral map that would show him any different. Picard has the potential to do that but it would take longer than the movie allows and first he has to bring Shinzon to a place where he would accept it.
Some of us believe that, even at age 1, we know that taking the cookie when we've been told not to, is wrong. I said that I knew it was wrong to take the cookie after I was told the cookie wasn't mine to take. If the cookies were free to take, it would never have been wrong to eat one. Inside, I knew that if I took the cookie, I would be in the wrong. Not because I was told, but because it wasn't mine. And I knew that even the very first time. It was not a learned experience. It was an inner experience.
I'm so sorry but I'm really going to have to respectfully disagree with everything you've said there. I thought I had some memories that stretched back a long way ~ usually to the amazement of family members, but, as impressive as my memory is for childhood events, there's no way that I can remember back to age 1, and I really doubt that you can honestly claim that you do. The more likely scenario is that you were somewhat older and that by that time you have received instruction from your parents about the notion of ownership ~ espcially with regard to food items. Small children learn about ownership through having their own clothers, eating equipment, and toys. They are also taught from the time they can grasp items not to snatch anything that isn't offered to them first ~ I know I was teaching my own daughter that from babyhood, discipline that I doubt she could remember. What you've expressed with that illustration is a mismatch between some kind of "inner experience" which probably resulted from having been well taught by your parents, and some quasi-reasoning that was probably more to do with already knowing that taking cookies without being offered them was wrong.
Shinzon knows what he's doing. He knows it's bad/wrong/evil - pick a description. He still chooses it because to him, revenge is sweet.
So Shinzon's motives stem entirely from revenge? I don't think so since he has the problem of delivering ~ or at least appearing to deliver ~ the promise of conquering earth to his Romulan backers. There's also the small question of consolidating the freedom he has won for the Remans. Compared to that, revenge would be a happy side effect for Shinzon.
This is Shinzon's limited view of life. True he does say that, but I have a different feeling/viewpoint about why he says that.
If you'd lived two thirds of your life in a black hole in the ground with no other of your species for company, and spending your days picking dilithium crystals out of a rock face, you'd have a limited view of life too. It's not like the Romulans gave their slaves culture breaks, schooling, or facilitated out-of-hours clubs for them to sit about discussing philosophy, literature, or great art.
The clue comes in the novelisation where Shinzon, upon seeing Deanna for the first time, says "where I come from there is no light, no beauty, I see that there's a different world" (or words to that effect). He really doesn't have a whole lot of time to assimilate any new stimulation even if his elaborate plan wasn't very well advanced by that stage.
I'm seeing a paradox here: on one hand you seem to have what I would describe as a very didactic notion that all humans are born with an innate sense of right or wrong and that, by inference, parents, schools, and religion (where it applies) function simply to reinforce those hardwired polarities of human thought and action, and on the other an attitude towards criminals and the fictional Shinzon that is pretty unequivocally pessimistic that human choice is always umittigated by any outside factors. In other words, since criminals always choose their path, nothing can ever change this tendency within them. So, I have to ask, is every criminal completely beyond redemption because they are simply choosing to ignore their inner clocks regardless of what experience of life they have? What use are inner clocks where there are feckless parents, absentee fathers, or bad schools failing to reinforce these inner moral leanings?
Or, more optimistically, might a few random acts of kindness directed at them mean that they learn
to understand the same moral register as most of us and make the right choices?
The notion of "you chose do it therefore you are entirely to blame" strikes me as a convenient placing the blame "away" or someplace else in order to not to self-examine, or look too closely at one's own community. I should have thought that the Columbine shootings nine years ago, which, on the surface looked like a couple of disaffected kids choosing to commit a most apalling massacre, ought to have led to a thorough examination of the culture of popularity in American high schools and another look at the gun laws, but all the time you can reductively say it was a bad choice made my a pair of kids ignoring their inner clocks, then of course, it was always bound to happen again, and it has.
I make no apologies for taking this a bit further off-topic, but I think, since it pertains to disadvantaged young men, that it's still germane to what Nemesis
has to say about two young Picards: here in the UK there is enormous concern in all sectors of our society about gang culture in our inner cities and the ever-escalating incidences of knife crimes and fatal stabbings of young men. Vitally, nobody is pointing the finger at gang members and pretending that it is their choice to behave in an immoral fashion, but rather, and increasingly, people are examining the pressures of living in such communities and most vitally listening to the young men themselves. Reformed gang members have underlined how impossible it is for even well-meaning people on the outside of these communities to talk about "choices", when they say that the young men who join gangs feel they have no choice but to carry knives and join gangs for their own protection. The paradox that everybody understands is that the streets would be safer is gang culture didn't exist at all, but try telling that to the individual young man who feels threatened everytime he has to cross another gang's territory to run an errand for his mum. He can't, single handedly, turn around entire communities and the creeping cultural incursion of the glamourised gang culture from the US. From where he's standing, his mum's told him it's wrong until she's blue in the face, and being stopped and searched by the police on a regular basis means that real gang life ain't glamorous, but he still percieves that his life is at risk if he is not in a gang and carrying a knife with which to defend himself.
The one constant refrain coming out of these examinations and initiatives to stamp out the cause of knife crime and gang violence largely boils down to one thing: absentee fathers and a lack of meaningful adult mentoring.
I rest my case.
You said somewhere back in the thread that I made a "lawyer's case" for mittigating Shinzon's actions. I don't think I did that so much as make a moral case that took notions of morality, and alternative moralities, far wider than the reductive norms, and I think this movie invites us to do that. Here's one place in which I think this movie surpasses TWOK.
This post has been edited by JulesLuvsShinzon: 07 September 2008 - 04:28 AM