How Obama Could Find Some Redemption

Paul Street in Counterpunch:

History, literature, film, and scripture are loaded with stories and examples of redemption. Buddhism gives us the story of Aṅgulimāla, a pathological mass-murderer who became a follower of the Buddha and went on to be enshrined as a “patron saint” of childbirth in South and Southeast Asia. Rick Blaine, the character played by Humphrey Bogart in the 1942 Hollywood classic Casablanca, put side his cynical bitterness and seeming indifference to the rise of the Nazi Third Reich to help Isla Lund (played by Ingmar Bergman) – the former lover who jilted (and embittered) him – escape the grip of the Nazis with her husband, an anti-fascist Resistance fighter. The movie ends with Blaine declaring his determination to join the Resistance in Morocco. The New Testament tells the story of Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector and a wealthy man:

“Jesus looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.’ Zacchaeus stood there and said to Jesus, ‘Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.’ And Jesus said to Zacchaeus, ‘Today salvation has come to this house. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.’”

Zacchaues was perhaps inspiration for Charles Dickens’ character Ebeneezer Scrooge, a vicious exploitative capitalist turned into a benevolent and kindly employer when the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future visit him to tell him the story of his heretofore miserable, money-grubbing, and misanthropic life. Malcom X told his life story to Alex Haley as one of redemption. It was a tale of progression from violent and criminal hustler (known as “Detroit Red”) to the righteous and radical channeling and focusing his anger at White Society as a fiercely eloquent Civil Rights fighter for all the oppressed. When the leading munitions and arms manufacturer Alfred Nobel read a premature obituary that condemned his as “the merchant of death,” he bequeathed his fortune to establish the annual Nobel Peace Prize.

More here.

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