Being intrigued by the trailer to the Terminal, I was therefore drawn to the ACE's showing of the the film this past Wednesday night. (What self-respecting college student says no to something that is free?) I must say that I was thoroughly impressed. Directed by film legend Stephen Spielberg, staring heavyweight Tom Hanks and the sparkling Catherine Zeta-Jones, there was definitely magic presiding over this project. Hanks plays the part of Viktor Navorski, an immigrant from the fictitious country of Krakozhia. The movie quickly gives us the plot: Krakozhia's leaders have been overthrown in a coo, and thus Viktor can not enter the United States because he now has no country. Because of the oddity of the situation, he can not be sent back to his country because it does not exist in a geo-political sense; therefore Viktor is resigned to residing in the international terminal.
Various lessons can be learned from this movie. First, there is the idea of being caught up in the system, becoming one of many. One is also forced to think about the liberties that one has, particularly in a country such as the United States. Finally, there is the idea of making the world a better place because of one's self.
We have a system in place to (hopefully) efficiently solve a great number of small problems. Following Henry Ford's lead, airports too have their own version of the assembly line. When Viktor is introduced to us, he is just like any other tourist attempting to gain entrance to the United States. But what makes him different is that there are no hard and fast rules for his situation. It has been said that each person unique, just like a snowflake. However, we can’t possibly hear everyone's story: we all have stories to tell. But when the system—the greater mass—becomes more important than the individual, society begins to break down. Emphasis should be place on the individual, because it is, after all, a mass of individuals that a system such as an airport is designed to serve.
Consider being here at UAH. If you want a Coke, you go to the Coke machine. If you want the special fruit drinks that are on the first floor, to the first floor you go, even though your business is on the third floor strictly speaking. But what if all you could have was Cokes from the third floor? What if you could actually stand in the stairwell on the third floor and see the fruit drink machine on the first floor? What kind of a hell must that be? Viktor is faced with an analogous problem. He can see the doors that, once on the other side, will allow him to reach his destination. Yet, we come and go every day doing as we please and never think twice about not being able to engage in activities of our choosing, or going places of our choosing. People who have always lived in free societies take for granted the liberties that they enjoy because the use them every day. Having not known oppression, they know not what they have, for as the old saying goes, "you don't know what you've got until you've lost it."
While watching this film, I was reminded that one person can make a difference. I do not believe in a Mother Teresa. One person isn't going to save the world all on their lonesome with only their own strength. But I do believe that one man with a vision can do much good, just as "one sinner destroyeth much good." I do believe, however, that by bettering one's self, one betters his environment, economy, and raises the standard of living. Therefore, by smiling at the people you meet, by sharing a word of encouragement, by standing up for what you believe in and fighting for it instead of letting others dictate to you, you can make a difference. By making that difference, you serve as an example for those who come behind you. Remember, that in order for evil to triumph, good men need do nothing. By seeking to provide a good or service to your local community, you enrich the community with your good or service. As people demand your product, you eventually need to hire workers to meet the demand. By doing so you have created jobs. Wealth has been created, and the community is better off because of you instead of in spite of you.
Viktor had a vision, a promise that he made to his father. By not giving up on the promise, he had the whole support of the airport. They changed because of his resolution. He had touched lives.
And so can you.