Thursday, February 21, 2008

black and white

I just finished watching 'Letters from Iwo Jima.' I'm a sucker for almost anything about WWII, primarily the war in Europe. I haven't read much about the war in Asia. But now my interest is once again peaked for the area, so my nightstand will undoubtedly be crowded with some thick tome in no time.

Tonight I am most curious about the idea of honor, and how that means different things to different cultures, even at different times. For the Japanese - at least from the perspective of this film, and from the little that I have read on the subject - honor meant dying for your country: no surrender. When the battle became hopeless, retreat or surrender was not an option. Retreat/regrouping was ordered by several commanders at various times, but was countermanded by others with an order for suicide instead.

I can begin to understand the honor in FIGHTING to the death defending your country. These men knew that Iwo Jima would be the staging point for the US against their homeland. One character summarized the point in fighting this futile, unsupported battle as 'one more day I spend defending this island is one more day of freedom for my family back on the mainland.' How is committing suicide when the battle is lost, instead of retreating to another position to fight another day, or surrendering once you know your cause is lost, honorable? And how is it honorable to shoot a man who chooses to live, instead of following your 'honorable cause' of suicide? How is this instilled in a culture? It's more than simple nationalism or wanting to defend liberty, however you might define that idea. Things I think about in the wee hours. :)

Which brings me to my next noodle-cooker. Black and white. We had a discussion on Sunday about what it means to 'keep the Sabbath Day holy.' One guy gave the example that when visiting his family - who are not of the same faith - they go out to donuts Sunday mornings. It's a family tradition. They don't run around the whole day shopping, and this isn't something he does at home with his own family, but when visiting his folks, they choose to honor this tradition. This is a concession they make toward family harmony.

This reminded me of another friend who had bitter showdowns and battles in the initial merging of the family she came from with the family she was starting with her husband. Her family is a Sunday brunch family, which went completely against how her husband was raised, and how they wanted their own family to operate. As you might imagine, this caused HUGE amounts of contention. Sort of going against the whole point of the Sabbath endeavor in the first place . . .

But I digress. A comment was made to the effect that if you've already 'broken the Sabbath,' what difference does it make if you refrain from shopping. To me - and I tend towards hyperbole at times, this is true - that's like hitting someone and saying 'Well, I already assaulted you, I might as well just stab you and finish you off.' Or 'I've broken one of the 10 Commandments, might as well just throw in the towel and do the other 9.' It's so obvious TO ME why that slippery slope argument is nonsense that I can't even articulate why it doesn't make any sense! Yet from this other person's perspective, they really can't see why there's any point in trying to mitigate the damages.

How would you answer this? It might sound silly, but this question is really causing this person a lot of pain and frustration. We can talk about 'judging what's right for someone else' another late night.


Mia said...

I have been thinking on this for two days now. I tend to agree with you that keeping a family tradition of donuts on Sunday doesn't give you free license to toss Sabbath observance out the window. When we are traveling we know that we have to eat enroute, but we still try to keep as much of the rest of the day in line with keeping the Sabbath day holy. To me it is important to regonize that there is a seperation between making consessions to have family harmony (or necessities while traveling) and ignoring all observance all together. In the context of the children, you are teaching them that family is of great importance and keeping those relationsips healthy is an eternal principal, but so are keeping our commitments to the Lord. I really think it is about give and take. The Lord doesn't turn his back on us if we go to family brunch. We shouldn't throw the rest of the day away because we made a tough decision. I am pretty sure the Lord would rather we keep what we could of the Sabbath while maintaining our very eternal family relationships. That seemed kind of circular, maybe it will make sense to you...

Serena Cherry said...

I say, just go to brunch and don't worry about what everyone else thinks. Nobody should be judging what they do on a Sunday anyway. Although, I agree that just because you do brunch to bring the family together, shopping probably won't fly in front of the judgement bar. Just my opinion!

Betty Grace said...

I liked that movie too, and I can say that about very few war movies. I found it interesting the role the culture played in the outcome of the battle. If they would have given up culture for strategy they would have had a much better chance. The movie was incredible, and heart breaking. I loved getting a new perspective.

In my new ward my visiting teaching comp told me with one of our ladies they go to out to lunch after church once a month and count it as the visit. So I've been thinking about that whole Sabbath Day holy thing a lot lately. I don't judge them if that is what they choose to do, although I'm not sure I'm very comfortable with it. The lady we visit teach is from Africa (relevant because she's not really familiar with Mormon culture/Sabbath rules), works every evening, and doesn't like anyone to visit her at home. It would be easy to just go with them. I think I'm going to plan a Saturday brunch at my house and see how that works.

Betty Grace said...

Hey- and I see you read Shop Girl. What did you think? Have you seen the movie? I liked both, but the movie better. (maybe because I have a she-crush on Claire Daines). Pure poetry IMHO

kat said...

serena - for me you hit the nail on the head. i don't think it's anyone else's job to judge what anyone else decides to do on sunday. it's for everyone to figure out for them and their own family.

mia - maybe that's the best way to say it: we just need to keep what we can. isn't that how LIFE works overall? try our best, knowing that we're going to mess up. knowing we're going to mess up doesn't mean that we shouldn't try at all.

now if i can figure out a way to get that gal to talk to me again, since she seems to be a bit miffed. :)

betty - YOU have a pickle. seems like the brunch idea is a good one - or just go have lunch at YOUR house after church and call it good. and if you come up something delicious to make, let me know, as i have no ideas for food lately.

as for shopgirl - i liked the book. i think he did a good job writing about singleness/loneliness. i really liked that she (and the first boy)evolved - learned from the earlier relationships and did better later. i haven't seen the movie. not sure if i want it to ruin the images i have in my head.

Disco Mom said...

I don't have anything new or insightful to add - I'm in Mia's boat. But I do have something funny. One time I was kind of teaching Hazel about Sunday and how it's a different day than the other days - we go to church, we dress up, Daddy is home (hopefully), etc. And I said something like, "And we don't go shopping on Sunday. Jesus said no shopping on Sunday." Somehow Hazel only took in the first part and now regularly reminds me on our errands, "Jesus said NO SHOPPING, Mommy!" Great.