I once sat in a staff meeting where the chairperson had us view a video about “paradigm shifts.” This was back in the day when the word “paradigm” was so chic it was downright dapper, and it sounded super cool to add “shift” after it. The video was a motivational speaker who used the following as an example:
“When you were a kid, what words would come to your mind when you thought of products that were made in Japan?” Here he was asking baby boomer aged people who chuckled and replied, “Junk,” and “low quality.”
“What do you think of things made in Japan now?” Now their answers changed. “High quality,” “expensive,” “top of the line,” etc.
This was a great example. At some point Japan changed their perspective and everyone else’s at the same time. We all have dots on a timeline where we changed our thinking and, therefore, our actions and lifestyles. So this week I’m going to explore some paradigm shifts of my own that I’ve discovered as dots on my own timeline. Here are a few:
1. Foreign movies, particularly German and Japanese, are good. As a child and teenager, foreign films were just plain weird to me. Just as weird as the word “foreign.” Just another one of those English words with a bunch of letters that have no business being there. (Would it kill us to just spell it “forin”?) Then as a young man living in an apartment with my wife and new baby girl I discovered Babette’s Feast in the local Blockbuster store we would often walk to. I only gave it a try because I’d heard the story in a book I’d recently read. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I told Joy that this made me want to see a movie I’d heard about two years prior called Life is Beautiful. To this day it’s still my favourite movie. But I never thought I’d be into old, black-and-white Akira Kurosawa movies. I also never thought I could survive a two and a half hour long marathon of watching not only a group of men in a single submarine, but in just four little rooms. And the non-stop action?? Um, no not in this movie. I don’t know what kind of voodoo witchcraft Wolfgang Petersen used to keep me sitting there, but it worked. Not only did I sit there but… yup you guessed it. Edge of my seat. Right there. Downfall, yet another German movie, cracked my top 20 favourite movies list. And I’ve seen four Kurosawa movies and liked every one of them. Maybe it was the motivational speaker that inspired me to give Japan a chance. It took a while, but now I believe that movies made not-in-America can be awesome.
2. God does not control your life, nor should anyone desire that. I do believe in God. And when I hear people say, “God is in control,” I don’t argue it. God loves us, watches over us, and his desire is for us to be happy. But he does not control. I wish I’d never heard anyone in my life say that I should “let God take control.” And those who said it did so from a pulpit. A loving Father would not ask that of his children. But I have to say that I’m not sure when this shifted for me. I think being a father myself has helped. I know most who believe in God would either agree or come up with another way of putting it, but growing up I heard all kinds of instructions, admonishments, song messages and just overall rhetoric that encouraged me to let God take control of my life. How I am treating this sentiment may not be “what they meant,” but how else can you take words like that?
3. Science isn’t an enemy to religion. I can’t believe it took me so long to realize this. When scientists discovered the earth revolved around the sun, Christians were upset. Very upset. When scientists made discoveries regarding the age of earth, Christians got upset. It’s still a major sore spot, so moving right along… When scientists discovered that we were being too destructive to our home planet—and this one blows me away—the church was skeptical at best. Some are, well, upset. Though there is greater evidence of God wanting us to take care of the earth in the Bible than there are of God not caring about such things, many Christians still seem quite perturbed by all this “global warming stuff.” Have scientists made mistakes? Yup. In fact, everyone in every field of study has made mistakes. Medical pros have always had this happen from time to time and still do, but for some reason we trust them more. We’ll take that pill and swallow it, but don’t give me none of your liberal swirly light bulb garbage!
4. (And this one is for my sister Lisa) Country music really isn’t that bad. There are still things I don’t appreciate about the genre, but thanks to Johnny Cash and a the movie Crazy Heart I’ve learned to appreciate it. Not ready for any ‘best of’ albums on my iPod, but I’m growing.
5. Just kidding. Country music blows. Hahaha! Got ya Lisa! Paradigm shift averted.
6. Coffee is good. I avoided coffee for years. The only reason I drank any at all was when we were having dessert and it just seemed to go well with what we were eating. Every morning Joy would make the stuff and I would enjoy the smell but not drink it. Right before my 40th birthday I started drinking it. I’m not sure if it had anything to do with 40. The circumstances were just right I guess. Now, I hardly drink tea anymore. This coffee stuff is pretty darn good. But this “I’ll kill you if I don’t get my coffee in me,” stuff hasn’t happened yet. I’m more like that with my morning cereal than coffee. Shout out to Mini Wheats. Those little guys rock! (Not referring to the animated guys in the commercials, you understand. Hate those wheaty little trolls.) And I’m all about the Keurig folks. Bring on the Cinnamon Pastry and German Chocolate Cake.
7. We can fight crime….with understanding and love. I know a lot of people see this as being soft on criminals, which is not what I propose at all. I believe they should pay for their debts to society for what they’ve done. However, along with that we also need to 1) try and understand why these crimes keep happening so as to discover how best to prevent them and create more good in the world and 2) stop enjoying the punishment of criminals so much. If we punish out of love like a father does (should do) with his children we can get somewhere. Today I heard a group of retirees at McDonald’s (man, they love that place) discussing Jian Gomeshi. One woman was saying that he was a sicko and our world just keeps getting worse and worse. She struggled pronouncing his name, though it sounded forced. I personally don’t see the world as getting worse and worse. We are seeing more sick people because of awareness, not because of internet, TV, rock-n-roll, or “this day and age we live in.” I hate what Gomeshi did. But I don’t hate Gomeshi. Not for a second. Working in the criminal justice system in a small way with the John Howard Society back in 2011-12 had a large impact on this for me. And no, I don’t beleive it’s “biblical” to kill people for their crimes. I won’t get into that though.
So there they are. I shifted my paradigms and survived the motion sickness. And now, to celebrate some great anime movies.
Congratulations, Spirited Away. This is your week.
And the Oscar goes to…
Best Actress: Ok, these are obviously difficult picks seeing as I don’t know any of the actors or actresses who gave their voices to the movies. I’m basically going to go with favourite characters then. For females I liked Sen in Spirited Away, voiced by Rumi Hiiragi.
Best Actor: Seita in Grave of the Fireflies voiced by Tsutomu Tatsumi.
Best Quote: “Ah, you’re awake. I was hoping you’d cry out in your sleep, then I would have bitten your head off to silence you.” Yup. Princess Mononoke actually has that line.
For the record my favourite anime movie is Grave of the Fireflies. I chose Spirited Away, not because of votes (it didn’t beat any others out) but because it is widely regarded as the greatest of all Anime feature films. If you’ve never watched one, give it a try. They’re not your typical animation movie. Despite the fantasy involved, they use techniques that make the movie a little more real to the viewer.
END NOTE: I’ve decided to change the format of this blog just slightly. Though I am a big fan of the IMDb top 250 list and believe it’s a pretty accurate list of truly great movies, I am going to access another couple of lists for the sake of variety. 250 is a small number when you’re listing great movies. The American Film Institute has a top 100 list that they update every ten years. In contrast to IMDb’s it is not user-based but strictly based on movie critics. I will occasionally use their latest list for Movie of the Week nominations, and when I do you will see the year and rating number in brackets after a movie—as usual—along with “AFI” so that you will know that movie comes from their list. Another list is Empire.com’s top 301. This one is based on both critics and users, though I find the other two lists better. Nominations that are taken from this list I will designate with “EMP.”
Ok, business meeting is over. Corporate has spoken.