Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"Babylon"

The easiest critique to write is to dog-pile a piece of art for not complying with the status quo. For instance, every single TV critic complaining that the latest episode of The X Files telling a story about an Islamic terrorist. In doing so, they completely miss the point of the story being told. And, they take the laziest approach to talking about art.

The reality is that a far more cliché approach these days would have been to have some other, unexpected group be presented as the terrorist. Yes, we all know that most Muslims are not suicide bombers. Yes, we all have considered the idea that other people can commit atrocities. What this episode wanted to address was the very real world we live in where, sadly but truthfully, most terrorists are of the Islamic persuasion. Rather than the helpful and needed, but also tired and old story that looks at our world from another perspective, this X File wanted to consider real solutions to real problems. Terrorism, racism, prejudice, and ingrained institutional sins were all in the crosshairs.

Early on in the episode, Mulder states, “It’s not important what I believe; it’s important what they believe.” He is not talking in terms of truth, but rather communication and perceptions. That is an important issue in this story. By the end of things, Mulder and Scully have the sort of conversation humanity has been struggling with since Babel. How can we all just get over ourselves and get along? Religion has caused about as many conflicts as communication breakdown. The extreme ideologies many espouse today are probably our number one problem. And the crux of the issue is not who is right or wrong, and not even what we believe they believe, but what they believe. How do we change extremists to help them see a world where people are allowed to be wrong and not die for their beliefs?

The most amazing aspect of this episode is the way Mulder discovers where the terrorists are hiding and preparing to kill more people. He takes a placebo and has a vision where he is given the information he needs. An argument could be made that God gave him the answer. It is interesting to consider that the solution to religious extremism fueled by hatred is a message from a loving God delivered to a man who is at best agnostic. Scully might have made more since as she at least believes in God and is a practicing Catholic.

But perhaps what was needed was a man seeking answers without preconceptions or dogmas. Sometimes what we believe gets in the way. Maybe an adjustment is required. “It’s not important what I believe God wants; it’s important what God wants.” If we approach God on His terms and not ours, maybe we will have an easier time hearing what He has to say.

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