The Hero and the Anti-Hero
Quick, who are your living heroes?
Is it a pretty short list?
Jimmy Carter has always been one of mine.
True, he only served one term as President, and could never
get re-elected. True,
the economy was truly awful during his term, as was the
hostage debacle. But
Jimmy Carter was, and still is, a farmer from Plains,
. Though a
politician, he’s no
insider, and he’s no slick, pricey attorney.
He is what he appears to be:
Sunday School teacher, diplomat, unapologetic Christian,
and tireless advocator for world peace, especially in the
“Jimmy Carter Man From
Plains” is a documentary that follows Mr. Carter in some of his
many promotional appearances during his recent book tour.
The book entitled, “
: Peace Not Apartheid,” created controversy because it is openly
’s treatment of Palestinians, particularly in the West Bank, and
. The very use of the
word “apartheid” was not appreciated by many critics, and
others were concerned that Mr. Carter was too one-sided in
condemning the Jews but not the Palestinians.
Mr. Carter politely but firmly rejects that criticism.
He says that he is equally critical of the Palestinians’
participation in terrorism, particularly with the suicide
bombings. But he is
careful to say that the book is about
, and not
. It’s about how
the Palestinians have essentially become prisoners in their own
territory, with personal rights severely restricted.
He says that is an obstacle to real peace.
Of course, everybody says they want peace, but the question
is always, “On whose terms?”
Mr. Carter, of course, is still proud of having been the
peace broker during the famous Camp David accords involving Anwar
and Menachim Begin of
. And that footage is
freely interspersed with the modern-day Carter, still trying to
influence public opinion. He
accepts practically any invitation to speak, on radio, television,
or campus lecture series. He
spends much time in hotel rooms, limos, and airplanes.
He is, for the most part, treated respectfully wherever he
goes, as venerable elder statesman that he is.
He handles criticism even-handedly, rarely displaying anger
or even irritation, but patiently explains his consistent point of
view. If an
interviewer tries to set him up with a series of provocative
statements prior to actually asking a question, Mr. Carter will
challenge the statements first, and then respond to the question.
He is unafraid for the camera to record him swimming, or to
include part of an interview on the “Tonight” show with Jay
Leno, where he says that he and Roslynn have been able to stay
married for 60 years in part because they give each other a lot of
space, and though he thinks as much as her as he always did, she
probably thinks less of him!
How could such humility not be endearing?
Sure, the entire documentary is a political valentine.
But if more politicians and chiefs of state were like Jimmy
Carter, the world would be a better place.
“Juno” is a film that
wasn’t supposed to work. Take
a Director under 30 (Jason Reitman) and two teenage actors (Ellen
Page and Michael Cera) doing a screenplay written as a first
attempt by a former stripper (Diablo Cody), and it sounds like a
complete disaster. But
somehow this movie just shines.
Ms. Cody’s script crackles with smart dialogue, and Ellen
Page is wondrous in the anti-hero role of Juno MacGuff, a high
school girl who becomes pregnant, and must decide what to do about
it. Fine secondary
performances by her parents, Bren and Mac (Allison Janney and J.K.
Simmons), along with the prospective adoptive parents Mark and
Vanessa (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) all contribute to the
high-quality, and eminently watchable, real-life drama with
liberal doses of ironic humor.
Questions For Discussion
What needs to be done to achieve
lasting peace in the
What needs to be done when an
unmarried teenage girl becomes pregnant?
Who are your living heroes?
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen,
Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church,