What I Do is Not Up to You.

That was a line from the Wonder Woman trailer. And it resonated with me then and again in the movie as I watched last night. Watching videos and reading reviews, you’ll hear a lot about how great Wonder Woman was, how well crafted the characters were (except maybe the bad guys) and especially how nuanced and plain wonderful the relationship was between the two leads, Gal Godot and Chris Pine. I took all that away with me too, and more than that, an optimistic sense of what we are capable of.

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So much in our modern world is confusing, contradictory and hard to navigate. What is the right thing to do? Lately expecially, I feel like I’ve fallen into general dissent of my country’s leadership and direction. Instead of being optimistic and taking action, I’m whining and complaining a lot.

I always really appreciate stories that illustrate that ¬†good people are capable of bad deeds. In war, that notion is dialed way up. Not that I have experience with that, but I’ve lived through enough wars that I’ve seen soldiers become Congresspeople and leaders. And there’s always a sense of legitimacy to those who have actually sacrificed and fought for something bigger. Bottom line is to do good, there may be times when you have to do bad things.

Steve Trevor talks about this with Diana throughout Wonder Woman. He’s constantly baffled by her insistence that killing Ares will stop the war, but he allows her to push forward with that plan despite knowing in his own heart that even IF it’s true (which probably seemed kind of possible after encountering Themescara), it’s not necessarily gods that determine the evil that man is capable of.

Of course we don’t know what the next 10 decades hold for Diana, but —SPOILERS —

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defeating Ares at the end certainly didn’t stop WW2 from happening or nuclear weapons from being developed and deployed. The lesson seems to be the same as Bruce Wayne’s lesson toward the end of Batman v Superman: Men (meaning all of humanity) destroy, betray and kill. But we can do better. We will do better.

That’s an optimistic view of the long arc of history and it’s what this movie left me thinking about. How can I be optimistic in the face of the very bad things people do to one another? The things we do to ourselves? There’s a real sense that we ARE capable of so much more. With an open mind and a little space left for the unthinkable, we can be good people working toward a better future. Especially if we’re willing to do what is necessary, vs what we’re told we’re capable of.

In the end, even as politics and leaders change and the pendulum swings socially, we can all be the heroes of our own stories, fighting to do what we need to do – what’s necessary – for ourselves and those around us that we care about. Even in the darkest of times, if our path is true, any one of us can accomplish wonders with nothing but a little belief in ourselves and the bravery to step off the beaten path to take action. Especially when we’re told it’s not possible or that we should put our head down and follow the crowd.

Go see Wonder Woman!! If not to feel optimistic about anything we can do personally, then to enjoy a kick-ass Amazon blazing her own trail. Because nobody tells Diana Prince what she should be doing. What she does is up to her.

 

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