Captain Phillips and a woman at a well.

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“There’s got to be something other than being a fisherman or kidnapping people.”

“Maybe in America, Irish, maybe in America.”

It’s a tale as old as time itself really good vs evil, right vs wrong,  good guys vs bad guys. However Captain Phillips takes a different slant. Yes there is still your basic good guys bad guys story line but what Paul Greengrass achieves in this fantastic knuckle chewing piece of work is not only a bit of balance but empathy for what cinema would normally pigeon-hole as the bad guys.

The film opens with scene setting from  both perspectives, That of Captain Phillips wonderfully played by Tom Hanks and the leader of the pirates, Muse who in no mean feat for a first timer (Barkhad Abdi) does some excellent scene stealing from Hanks.

The life of Somali pirates is wonderfully portrayed highlighting their circumstances that leave them with no other option than to turn to piracy. The quote above sums up their point of view and in many ways our Western arrogance and the assumptions that we make with regard not only to our place in the world but the place of others.

The rehumanisation of our enemies is nothing new, in John Ch 4 Jesus sits at a well with a Samaritan woman  This is significant not only for several reasons . Most notably a conversation with a Samaritan  would be unheard of. In that society Samaritans were the enemy, societal divisions are nothing new!  Also for a Jewish man to sit and converse with any woman people was not the societal norm.  This would not escape the attention of Scripture down the years. The biblical attitude SHOULD be to rehumanise our neighbours. The biblical attitude SHOULD be to subvert the ‘normal’ and to break through the societal barriers that hold us back.

In Belfast peace walls still exist and in fact new walls/fences are being erected. We are along way off where we should be and it will be  along journey to get us where we need to be. Perhaps its time to start our own conversations of rehumanisation and starting breaking down our societal norms.

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