Monday, July 10, 2006

One of those things

So, we're not on the road until this afternoon, and I figured I could sneak in one more post- especially since I have one of those weird Ouiser questions floating around in my brain. M and I rented Batman Begins the other night. (I'm on a superhero kick, I suppose.) At the beginning Bruce Wayne's dad is talking about how the depression is going to ravage the less fortunate people of Gotham, so he has built a rail system to create an inexpensive mode of mass transportation for the people. Throughout the movie, Bruce Wayne's parents are remembered for their generosity and kindness. I digress...

As Thomas Wayne was telling Bruce about the rail system and seeming like a world-class citizen/billionaire, I asked M, " do you think it's possible for idealism to truly exist in a person who has so much?" I've been thinking about that question for a couple of days now. Is idealism alive in the people who have both the means and the power to change the world?

Obviously, there are standard answers available here. Bill Gates give oodles of money to various philanthropic causes. John Edwards is devoted to eradicating poverty in the United States. Al Gore is a crusader for our ravaged planet. But, do these people have both the means and the power to create real and substantial change? If anyone believes that Al Gore would have been able to spend the last six years devoted to the environment and making An Inconvenient Truth if he'd been elected president, think again. While the environment would still be important to him, his responsibilities would be too broad for such focus. John Edwards has flat out stated that he'd never have been able to make strides in the war on poverty if still holding an elected position. (For the record, that won't stop his presidential bid in 2008.) Bill Gates has more money than God, and money equals a lot of power, but is it the right kind of power to make a difference?

I wonder if, in the process of acheiving power and wealth (ala Gore, Edwards, and Gates), you lose the ability to remain a true idealist? Does the corruption of business and politics muddle your idealistic goals? Does the necessary dose of pragmatism and a healthy shot of realism change those goals, and does it change you? I really don't know the answer. I know that there are loads of grassroots movements out there that are making a difference. There are plenty of celebrities shedding light on a myriad of global issues. I'm not saying that the world is so corrupt that change is impossible. I don't think that for a second. I'm just thinking about the scale of change. (It's a scale issue, M.)

I'm going to think about this for awhile, and I'll probably bore my poor husband to tears on the afternoon journey. I just thought maybe someone else would find this question as appealing and baffling as I. Any thoughts?


die Frau said...

What a great question. My short answer is that, from the thoughts you've planted in my head, it may be easier to be a successful idealist if you have the time, money, and energy to put forth all of those to your cause. That being said, I heard somewhere that every major movement started with grassroots efforts. None of them started large; they all started small and grew. So I guess if you care deeply enough about a cause, you make the time and spend the money. However, I do see your point about people like Edwards and Gore being more effective because they didn't have the added pressure of leading the free world. You can't be as focused toward one cause; you have to support all of them.

I'm impressed--that question did NOT pop into my head while watching Batman Begins.

feather nester said...

Charisma. I'd add that to the equation. I think people need a hero to get behind. The cause itself is not always enough to inspire people, but a charismatic leader is often more effective than the do-gooding at motivating people into action.