Society is the lens through which humanity measures its own multitude of iniquities. By its standards a human becomes part of one movement or another, a member of one class, ethnicity, and even citizen in the eyes of those who see fit to judge others. In assigning labels to others it becomes far more comfortable for society to look upon a certain class or even entire race of people in a much simpler, more objectified manner. Peace is the manner in which unification and tolerance is created, whereas intolerance and labeling others is how struggle is born. In a world created by differences the similarities omitted by society are what divide humanity.
Movies such as The Reluctant Fundamentalist shine a spotlight upon the gross iniquities
of humanity in a manner that is born of sensationalism and strengthened by the irregular touches
of fact that are picked at in order to make the story more plausible. Throughout the film the
young scholar, Changez, continually speaks of his own experiences with the cultures of both
American and his native Pakistan. He speaks of the treatment he endures within American
culture both before and after the fateful bombing of the twin towers on September 11th, and of
how his life became a rather unfair series of judgments passed by those whom he had believed to
be his friends. Throughout all of this however he somehow manages to avoid the distorted views
of society that managed to plague so many after the disaster. As Nair (2013) states, it is
necessary to obtain both sides, be it a discussion or a fundamental truth that seeks to unite humanity.
Lip service paid to the ideals that are capable of bringing together strangers from different regions tends to emerge within the borders of many countries, particularly in America, which stands as one of the most envied countries in the world. Within America’s borders, as written by Hamid (2007), it is quite common to hear the words of equality and that all men and women deserve the same chances in life. Unfortunately this type of universal truth tends to extend only to the borders where patriotism begins to take over as Changez finds. Even near the end of the film he cannot escape the assumptions that become affixed to his people as the American journalist and CIA operative he speaks to throughout the film mistakenly suspects him of being corrupt and duplicitous.
This is the view that society has taken on after such a tragedy, and the basis for this film. Mistrust and suspicion have replaced respect and a mutual understanding of culture. Justified or not, such lack of trust can only add another crack to the already distorted lens through which society views each nation. The actions of a misguided few often are enough to create the opinion that anyone belonging to the same race, ethnicity, or like-minded group is essentially the same. This was seen largely in the wake of the events that occurred on September 11th, 2001.
A particularly poignant scene within the film occurs when the main character, Changez
(2012), admits his state of mind during the bombing of 9/11. He recalls smiling, though without
humor or malevolence. Instead he relates that he was impressed in a way at the genius of the
bombers and how they struck a blow against the supposedly mightiest nation in the world. It is
quite understandable how even the hint of mirth is to be taken by an individual such as the
American to whom he is speaking, but it is also explained in a manner of greater understanding
that Changez sees fit to relay. No matter his explanation however, it is understood that
involvement in a nation that does desire outside influence is often seen as an unwanted invasion.
The true problem that occurs however is not within the attack itself, but the perceptions before and after that further skewed the manner in which society looks upon different elements within its fold. The Muslim nation became an institution that was both reviled and mistrusted after the attack, and to date is still placed under great suspicion concerning any act that is labeled as terrorism. To date there have been many attempts to change this image through methods of understanding, explanation, and a general reconditioning of public opinion towards the Muslim culture. America has been encouraged to take a longer look at its own actions regarding the attack instead of seeking only retribution for the attack.
The damage done, historically speaking, is only another milestone during which the perceptions of one particular group are misconstrued and used as a means of justification when alienating individuals from another. In the lifetimes of those affected it will be a defining moment, a point in history when the world changed. Overall, it will be yet another setback to the universal ideals that so many wish to see implemented. There can be little to no peace when assumptions lead the masses into fear, despair, and suspicion.
Human kind can be very problematic species. Our goals in life are to live, to find
happiness in whatever form it might exist, and to one day pass on from this world. Individuals that exist thousands of miles from one another can agree upon several facets of life that are equally important for all people, but instead focus largely upon the differences that exist between them, choosing to allow the divide that separates them to become ever wider as misunderstanding and suspicion overshadow the truth of existence. Every human wishes to live and be happy, no matter their differences.
Hamid, Mohsin. “Why Do They Hate Us?” The Washington Post. 22 July 2007. Web. 25 May
Nair, Mira. “Crossing Dangerous Borders.” The New York Times. 19 April 2013. Web. 24 May
The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Dir. Mira Nair. Perf. Riz Ahmed, Liev Schreiber, Kate Hudson,
and Kiefer Sutherland. IFC Films, 2012. Film.