Saturday, April 21, 2007

Back again

It's been exactly two months since my last (rather narcissistic) post. Needless to say, a lot has been happening. In particular I've been doing a lot of teaching and have found myself on a treadmill of reading, preparing, teaching classes and marking. I do love it though - and I'm learning more than I think I ever have.

I watched the movie Sophie Scholl: The Last Days last week. Released in 2005, the film details the last five days in the life of Sophie Scholl, a young German woman involved in the non-violent resistance movement known as 'The White Rose' during World War Two. Along with her brother, Hans Scholl, and Christoph Probst, she was executed by the Nazis in 1943 at the age of 22. The film generates a great deal of tension because the outcome of the story is known from the beginning; this serves to focus attention on the reactions of Sophie to her predicament, particularly her courage and faith in the face of certain death. The film carefully treads a difficult line by depicting the heroic nature of Sophie's actions without turning into a piece of hagiography.

I was quite emotionally affected by the film and found myself inevitably reflecting on how I might react in such circumstances. How courageously do I stand by my convictions? Not very. I also found the following quote (attributed to Sophie Scholl) particularly challenging:

The real damage is done by those millions who want to 'survive'. The honest men who just want to be left in peace. Those who don't want their little lives disturbed by anything bigger than themselves. Those with no sides and no causes. Those who won't take measure of their own strength, for fear of antagonizing their own weakness. Those who don't like to make waves or enemies. Those for whom freedom, honour, truth and principles are only literature. Those who live small, mate small, die small. It's the reductionist approach to life: if you keep it small, you'll keep it under control. If you don't make any noise, the bogeyman won't find you. But it's all an illusion, because they die too, those people who roll up their spirits into tiny balls so as to be safe. Safe?! From what? Life is always on the edge of death; narrow streets lead to the same place as broad avenues, and a little candle burns out just like a flaming torch does. I choose my own way to burn.