The Lives of Others
Today I saw a movie that had a profound effect on me. It's called The Lives of Others. Based in East Germany in 1984, the story revolves around a playwright's attempt to expose the truth about East German conditions to the West.
As I watched the movie my thoughts were not on East Germany. They were on Guantanamo Bay, where the life of another is being robbed in the name of state security. The names and political parties change. The drama is the same.
During the course of the movie, the plot moves ahead to November 1989 - the fall of the Berlin Wall. The playwright begins to learn the truth about the level of surveillance he had been under by the Stasi. In an exchange with a former Party official, the playwright tells him, "To think that people like you once ruled a country." The man smiles.
The man smiles.
"To think that people like you once ruled a country." And the man smiles.
I think of the young man in Guantanamo, lying naked in solitary confinement, prevented from sleeping, shepherded in chains for one hour per day, taken back to his cell the moment he stops, held without charges for ten months and counting. Not even the Stasi was so cruel. Perhaps he would have met a swifter fate in East Germany. Considering his future, which most likely is life imprisonment or the death sentence, I think the Stasi method was more humane.
I think of P.J. Crowley forced to resign for questioning the young man's torture. I think of the Stasi bureaucrat shipped off to dreg work for not going along with the Party's plans. I think of Obama's promise of transparency and protection for whistleblowers. I think of campaign promises to end torture, close Guantanamo, and repeal the Bush legacy.
Most of all, I think of all the people who told me that they were voting for Change. And I smile too.
David in Qatar