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Greatness vs. Pettiness - Review Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Harini Dias Bandaranayake, Sri Lanka Nov 27, 2007
Human Rights   Opinions


As the world focuses on the violence-free rights of women this week, I thought it apt to review the film - ‘The Contender’. Physical violence, it turns out, is only one dimension of abuse. I watched it anticipating the jaded expectation of another film with a mission to bring out the great tradition and honor of truth and high citizenry morals of the general public from within the Oval Office and the American administration as a diving plank to achieving this end. I thought that that is exactly what it would be - a typical and staid glorification of the American Government, pitting the bad and ugly against the good and fair - but, to my surprise, it was not.

The film moved me as a human being, as a woman and as a part of the larger public; I was struck with awe at what makes for true greatness in the most trying of times and circumstance. I was captivated by the recurring theme of the film with competing insights into the two extremes of ‘pettiness’ and ‘greatness’. I ended up feeling as triumphant as perhaps the movie director intended his audiences to feel, as my proud tears was a testament to this fact – and some amount of hope or wishful thinking for my own nation, for every nation on earth in fact – for humanity.

For but a moment I was free to inspire my mind to think ‘only if every woman had such a man standing by her no matter what,’ ‘if only every woman had a man pulling for her integrity, without the slightest doubt in her moral worth and character.’ If only…as the President (Jeff Bridges) had stood by his Vice President nominee (Joan Allen) even as she was smudged with scandal upon scandal barely minutes after her nomination to the Vice Presidency.

But the truth is that that is often not the case: women in our world in all parts are let down by the men they expect to stand by them and support them through the worst of times. Women are often persecuted, tortured, abused, dishonored and devoured by the very men who should not have thought twice about standing up for them, of being their strength, their companions/brothers/fathers, their encouragement, their beacons of light when dark and grim days come upon them. It made me realize that it is only extremely weak men who fold, who defect, who give up, who desert, who abuse and abandon the women who could have been co-shares in greatness with them, after weathering the storms that two were meant to weather, instead of one.

Just as integrity does not discriminate by gender, neither does weakness. Pettiness is a choice, and many think a short cut to greatness, but often only exposes the lesser quality of the man…or woman. Light exposes all; sooner or later it must. Only greatness and strength and truth and integrity stand in the final outcome. And when push comes to shove, that is all that matters. Greatness has no short cuts; greatness without uncompromising integrity and inner strength is not greatness at all. Such great women surround me and the increased awareness of the blight of less fortunate women around me in my society everyday calls me to be great on their behalf. Greatness - that is a gender-blind great heritage to live up to.



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Harini Dias Bandaranayake

Harini Dias Bandaranayake is a social/relief worker and coordinates capacity building for the youth in South Asia to work towards regional peace building and conflict resolution and to advocate and address the various social, political, economic and environmental issues homogenous to South Asia.
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