Thursday, November 28, 2013

Do the bad guys win?

Movie cliches dictate that the bad guys are always stronger and better organised than the heroes. For most of the plot, the villains look poised to conquer the world until- just in the nick of time- a social outcast with just the right combinations of mazal and skill pulls off a perfect sequence of tricks that tips the scales, sends the villains packing and saves the world.

With the right agent, the Maccabees could have raked in royalties (or plagiarism suits) for generations now. Hero/ villain movies are all just variations of the Chanukah tale. That whole one-guy-takes-down-auto-weapons-packing-global-crime-syndicate-with-his-bare-hands genre is Maccabee through and through. Read the Chanukah prayer, it's all there: "The mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the wicked into the hands of the righteous". Basically, the good guys defy the odds and win.

Ah, but there is one part that Hollywood hasn't picked up on. Chanukah is also the time that the "impure were delivered into the hands of the pure". Goodbye martial arts, this is now spiritual conflict we're talking about. You know, the kind that plays out inside our heads and is much more difficult to win than a bar brawl or street scuffle.

Spiritual conflicts work like a see-saw, when one force rises, the other must fall. You'll know this from your own experiences- on the days that you feel inspired, no distraction pulls you away from your focus. But, when you're feeling dry, scintillating spirituality doesn't raise your eyebrow. Get stuck in that rut for long enough and the "pure" side of life slips far out of sight. You start to feel like you'll never be inspired again.

What a frustrating vicious cycle to get caught up in. You don't feel inspired, so you have no motivation to get up and do the things that may inspire you. So you feel less inspired. 

By rights, once you're getting sucked down in that blah spiral, there should be no way to come up for air. After all, how can you inspire yourself to inspire yourself?

The real miracle of Chanukah is not so much the "good guys come out tops" story (you can catch that on DSTV). The big deal of Chanukah is that the "pure" found a way to displace the "impure"; the soul managed to drag itself out of the mire of lethargy. The light was able to shine again through the darkness. That's Chanukah. It celebrates the promise that the most uninspired of us can flip our "on switch" whenever we choose to, even if we're convinced that the inspiration we want can never be found, and if it is found, it can never last. Chanukah says beating bad guys is impressive, but the real goal is to reignite our personal Menorah.

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