After my previous post celebrating the diversity on display during the most recent Oscar telecast, I got an email from my brother discussing his objection to the possibility of the Oscars being given for what seemed to be political reasons, or for any reason other than rewarding exceptional talent and skill. His comments caught me by surprise, because I had felt that every award this year had been earned and that none had been given simply for the sake of political correctness or forced inclusivity.
Our exchange did get me thinking, though, about what truly was the reason to celebrate this year's diversity. I was able to express my response only clumsily at first, until I finally saw that what is truly cause for celebration is that more stories are being told, more kinds of stories about more kinds of people; more voices are being heard; different kinds of experiences are being shared. Oscar voting has always been led by the voters' biases, allegiances, and subjective tastes, never simply by recognition of the most exceptional work. (The example I used in responding to my brother was the year, 1969, in which "Oliver!" won Best Picture over "The Lion in Winter", which to me felt like a travesty.) That subjectivity will always be an influence in the rewarding of any works of art. How splendid that the subjectivity and biases are finally starting to point in more directions than just toward the work of white men.
Sweet Hubby also added to the conversation that it's not just a matter of who gets nominated and who wins the vote. It's about who even gets the chance to work as a filmmaker, whose vision has a chance to be seen, whose voice is heard, whose story is told. This country, this world, is so rich in diversity; how splendid that that diversity is showing up on screen. That's what I celebrate.
Okay, on to the other part of this entry: Yesterday I visited an elderly friend of mine. She's a lovely woman, part of a spiritual group I have been with for many years. She is also responsible for me traveling to Israel and Palestine a few years ago, a journey I had long imagined but might never have made on my own. So she is certainly a valued friend, who is now living alone in senior housing. It's a nice enough place, but still, my friend moved there during COVID and because of that has been in virtual isolation for almost a year, just at the time when her mental and physical powers are diminishing and limiting what is possible for her. I know she both needs and deserved attention from friends, and I was happy to go, but really it would have been easier for me to have stayed home, where I could have given time to the several projects calling for attention. I sort of didn't really feel like making the effort. So I was looking at why I had. I was under no obligation, had made no promise, and she has no particular expectation of attention from me.
I realized that I visited her for the same reason I remove nails from the street. On some level, I seem to believe that if I save someone else's tire from puncture, then somehow my tires will be saved as well. If I visit my lonely elderly friend, then when I'm lonely and elderly myself, people will visit me. I know that this is not scientific nor reality-based thinking. Plenty of people who do magnificent acts of generosity wind up with cancer or in car crashes. Moving this nail will not save me from the next one. I do know that, and I pride myself on not being superstitious. But my own actions have revealed to me that I seem to be a believer in some kind of karma. So I'm going to keep removing nails from the the street. Just in case.