Kite Runner

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Paramount and “The Kite Runner”– One Manifestation of Goodness in the Spirit(s) of Our Times      
by Andrew Bard Schmookler
Starting in late September, I began writing about “The Spirit(s) of Our Times.” In each instance, the emphasis was on the dark side of that spiritual picture. And it is indeed important –especially in times like ours– to become aware of how evil and destructive spirits operate in the world and how they manifest themselves in our cultural system.

It is also important, however, to understand the workings of the forces of goodness. America has darkened, but the spirits of our times include good ones as well, shaping the course of events in constructive ways.

Here’s one small piece of the American picture where, as I see it, one can discern some of those benign workings.

Paramount Pictures has made a film of the renown based on “The Kite Runner,” the recent novel about Afghanistan in our times. The release of that film has now been delayed, it has been widely reported, because it has become clear that because of some scenes of the film –apparently of a sexual nature, and with political overtones– the child actors and their families would be in danger of being the targets of violence. Paramount has declared that the release of the film will await their getting the boys and their families relocated out of Afghanistan, perhaps in the United Arab Emirates.

Paramount is hopeful that this protective relocation will need only be a temporary measure, but if it turns out otherwise they have expressed a commitment to paying for arrangements for the parents to be employed so that, if the danger persists, they can make a long-term life in their new location.

I regard this as a manifestation of the spirit of goodness in operation.

It is unclear whether Paramount was naive or careless or simply indifferent in its exposing these boy actors to such danger in the making of the film. Nor is it clear whether Paramount is now taking these apparently caring measures on the behalf of these vulnerable people because there is goodness in its institutional heart.

But regardless of Paramount’s motives now or along the way, it still represents a manifestation of goodness.

That’s true in one way if Paramount was nobly motivated throughout in this “Kite Runner” affair. But it is still true, albeit in another way, if Paramount is acting in this “caring” way because it is afraid of looking bad or being held responsible if something bad happened to those people as a result of this Paramount film.

Either way, it is an expression of goodness — if not goodness in Paramount itself, than through the influence of goodness in the wider society where there resides the belief that people are obliged to be careful not to expose other people to great danger.

People can do good out of their own love and their own devotion to goodness. Or they can do good out of concern for the moral judgments of others.

Consider how different these Bushite years would be if the spirits of goodness were stronger in either the Bushites themselves (to care about the opinions of others) or in so many in the American public that there had been less support for evil and more insistence on holding the malefactors to account.


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