The political situation has been disturbing, scary and other-worldly lately. Just when you think it can’t get weirder, it overperforms like the lead in a grammar school play.
So, yesterday I watched two documentaries that reminded me that while there is evil in the world, there is also good. There are also people who are just plain amazing, that fortify your belief in humanity.
The Cave is about an underground hospital in Syria, where war jets and bombing are a way of life. It follows a 30-year-old pediatrician, Dr. Amani Ballour who has earned the right as a woman (in a place where women are to be seen and not heard) to not only work alongside a tough but tender male surgeon who anesthetizes his ravaged patients with classical music from his iPhone, but also to head up the bare bones hospital which struggles with no supplies and makeshift accommodations. The superheroes who work with her to save terrified children and adults who are living in a hell even having Trump as president doesn’t compare to (there, don’t say I never said anything nice about that man) are doing the impossible, but they persist. It is a bleak movie, but at the same time it filled me with the reminder that things could be worse and even when they are bad, there will always be people who rise, people who invest, people who show up in a full and loving way.
Honeyland is an extraordinarily gorgeous movie about Hatidze Muratova, a 55-year-old woman who lives with her bedridden 85-year-old mother, dog, and three cats, in a small hut without electricity or running water in the desolate, unforgiving, but physically beautiful mountains of Northern Macedonia. She is a master beekeeper, in the old tradition, respecting the process and the bees to make her meager living. She walks or takes a bus 12 miles to the nearest city to sell her natural honey. You see rather quickly that this woman has an open and optimistic heart. But there goes the neighborhood when in moves, a noisy herd of a family who has seven children to feed with their cattle and loud machinery hoping to farm the land. At first Hatidze embraces the company, takes joy in the children and shares not only her great warmth and openness but also her brandy and beekeeping expertise. But selfishly, Hussein, father of the wild bunch, with mouths to feed, takes to making honey himself. And the story unfolds as to how his gross disrespect for the land kills Hatidze’s bees and thus her livelihood and turns on him, so that he is left without cattle, or bees and must move his family on. We then see Hatidze explore her loneliness, what could have been and the fate of her mother. It is a heart wrenching, but lovely tale and I defy you not to want to go and bring Hatidze and her animals to your home to pamper for the rest of their lives.
If you’ve become particularly pained by politics, I feel you. We all have to do what we can, but also remember to use some perspective. Gratitude to these extraordinary documentaries about people who live lives that matter. Just knowing they exist help me to see a bigger picture of humanity (and right now, that is exactly what I need).