At the height of the furor over Gaza recently, when people on social media seemed to become increasingly polarized, I stumbled upon 45 Minutes to Ramallah, an English-language, German-produced film from last year. I had the notion that it might be a good time to watch a comedy about Israelis and Palestinians, because if comedy is any good, it's humanizing.
The film tells the story of two Palestinian brothers who try to smuggle their dead father's body from Jerusalem to his West Bank village, to be buried. Along the way, they encounter venal and capricious Israelis and maniacal, feuding Palestinians. The protagonists are just two normal guys — like you, maybe, or me; just trying to get by.
It was balm for the soul.
Something similar, if less historically weighted, happened recently when Hannah Fleming, one of our interns, set up a meeting between an Air Force Academy cadet and a Colorado College student. We'd talked about all kinds of questions aimed at highlighting what we assumed were the differences in the college experiences of a Frisbee-loving film and new media major and a military man learning to straighten up and fly right.
Yet the more these two spoke, the more similarities they found. Perhaps it's because, left to their own devices, people find common ground as water seeks its own level.