"I Believe In Love" - Why This Theme From 'Wonder Woman' Matters
Wonder Woman Herself
Sometimes, It's All You Need
An American president who spews hateful rhetoric.
Continued poverty and apathy.
This ain't a pretty world, on its surface, and it's all too easy to look for escape. Who wouldn't? Everything we see lately is tainted with negativity, and it can be really easy to hop on the bandwagon, admit everything is going terribly, and just stop trying to go about the business of living.
It was seeing a superhero movie this weekend - Wonder Woman - that made me realize that as fun and as gripping as that movie is, there were themes embedded in the film that hold particularly true even today. The idea of theme is something I tend to grab onto a lot, as an English teacher, so much so that even when I watch movies for fun I find myself analyzing them a little bit in much the same way as I would with me students.
Never mind the action in Wonder Woman. Never mind that Gal Gadot is so, so great in the role, as she was in Batman v. Superman, and has a smile that could light up a room or two. Never mind that Wonder Woman is the first female-driven film to bust the $100 million mark with a solo female lead.
It's the ideas in the story that are so damn gripping, and when Gadot, as Diana Prince, "Princess of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons," says simply "I believe in love," it's not hard to lean back in your chair a bit and applaud.
Diana Prince is a warrior, first and foremost, and she takes that responsibility very seriously. It's those moments when she's reflective, though, that we as the audience realizes that she's just as flawed and feeling as the rest of us. Love is a thread that weaves its way beautifully throughout Wonder Woman, and it's not discussed in the same glowing, warm phrases that feel cloying and as though a fantastic, sweeping romance is ultimately driving the story.
Diana Prince means love in the broader sense of the term. It's clear throughout the film that she really loves people in general, and would do anything to help them, so when she finally slips back into her narrative mode and says, "I believe in love," you know she's not just talking about the love she felt for Captain Steve Trevor; it's her love for humanity as a whole that is her focus.
Couldn't we use a whole lot of that in today's world?
Innocence, Intelligence, And Love
It's Not A Perfect Solution, But What A Nice Start
It's an idealized approach, to be sure, but we could use a whole lot more idealism than we've had in the world lately.
Rather than looking at our own reactivity, let's be a little more proactive; what if we actually started reaching out with some kindness? What could happen then?
I'm not advocating an approach of letting people walk over you because that is also dangerous and allows even more bad things to happen. However, what if we started looking for the good in each other?
Not a single one of us is perfect, not by a long shot, but there's good somewhere along the way. While acknowledging that not everyone is wired right - sometimes brain chemistry and neurology just aren't what they should be - there is nothing wrong with looking at each other and trying to assess what good there is. We have to work together to get rid of the evil in the world - that much is certain - but in looking for our common ground with one another rather than looking for how we're going to screw each other over, we should start from a place of love.
We're not going to agree with everyone all of the time, either, but that's all right, as well. We're so busy trying to tell everyone what we understand and what we're about that we forget to understand each other. "Seek first to understand, then to be understood" is a tenet directly from the Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People. What if we actually tried understanding each other first rather than going "I get it," right away, when really we're assuming we do?
What if we looked and said, "We're fellow human beings, and I want to understand where you're coming from better," rather than assuming we just know because it seems like a situation we know?
Each one of us is different, and worthy of that understanding and if not something as deep as love, something that would be considered affection and respect. "I believe in love," Diana Prince said - and she wasn't talking about a love between two individuals.
What if we all started believing the same thing?