Small Moves, Ellie

I’m back from my holidays, taking one more day tomorrow just to relax, and I happened to catch Jody Foster (Ellie Arroway) in Contact on TV.

I was struck by the words of former National Security Advisor Michael Kitz (played by James Woods) as he interrogated Ellie in the Congressional investigation.

Kitz had quit his post to get to the bottom of Ellie’s story that she had gone through a wormhole to another world and that she had talked to an extraterrestrial. His purpose was to create a groundswell for himself to ride into a Congressional election.

Kitz used innuendo, scorn, negative portrayals, diminishing adjectives, all to have Ellie drop her version of events, which included a visit with an extraterrestrial.

Ellie admitted the possibility that she may have imagined what she saw, but she said that she could not retract her story because everything human about her said that it was real, despite the lack of evidence in support of it.

She did not allow herself to get hooked. She did not respond in kind to her inquisitor. She did not abandon her experience.

But how hard is that? How difficult is it to face that much scorn and not lose one’s balance?

What is it about scorn that wounds so deeply? Why is it so hard to keep one’s self-possession in the face of another’s indictment?

Why do we feel so insulted when we are not believed? Outraged when someone attacks us? And how, in the face of attack, are we able to hold onto our own version and experience rather than abandon it.

Most everyone here has had to endure ridicule at one time or another for what they believe to be true. It’s the price of maintaining beliefs such as we hold here. It’s the price of holding to the truth in the face of those who would force us to deny it, often for their own ends.

But what is the secret to maintaining a belief in yourself, without attacking another, when accosted to the degree, say, that Ellie was, before a nation?

What is the source of strength when faced with a situation like that?

I don’t know the answer. I can only ask the question. Perhaps it’s an open question, one that never completely admits of a final answer. Maybe finding answers to it is an unfolding process. And perhaps that unfolding process is really why we’re here, all else being secondary.

How not to abandon the truth when all else screams at you to embrace a lie?

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