Thu 2023-Mar-16

Schwarzenegger Reminds Us (Again) To Do Better

Tagged: Beauty / NotableAndQuotable / Politics / Religion / Sadness

Arnold Schwarzenegger keeps making sense, even when nobody else does.

He did tell us he’d be back, right?

Almost exactly year ago on this Crummy Little Blog That Nobody Reads (CLBTNR), we noted approvingly that Arnold Schwarzenegger had posted a YouTube video making shocking amounts of sense about the Russian invasion of Ukraine (later an article in The Atlantic), and another about fascism in the US. He spoke of his love for the Russian people, Russian colleagues he’d known, the enormous price his father paid for being on the fascist side in WWII. He pleaded with the Russian people:

“I don’t want you to be broken like my father.”

I also admitted back then that I had scant patience for jocks of any sort, due to a lot of jocks-vs-nerds abuse growing up. They taught that me gyms were places of pain, abuse, and cruelty:

It takes a lot to bring tears to my eyes at the words of a former athlete in a sport I don’t like, turned actor in movies I don’t like, turned politician for a party I don’t like. But… give it up for The Arnold, because looking into his eyes at those moments did it. There’s an awful lot of compassion for the pain of others, and a desire to help them do better. This is as we should all feel toward each other.

Sadly, I had forgotten most of this lesson over the last year, and fallen back into my trap of dismissing athletes, as has been my lifelong habit. But now, I’m happy to report that I have been called to repentance by his latest video. I will try to remember that this is a smart and good man who deserves to be known as such.

So what’s he done this time?

  • He spoke of his visit to Auschwitz, and the horror of that experience. He asked the question all good people ask themselves: how do we stop this from ever happening again?
  • Like any good facilitator of repentance, he spoke kindly and respectfully to those might already “have stumbled into the wrong direction”, toward fascism and conspiracy theories: “I want to speak to you before you find your regrets at the end of that path.” His father’s path “ended in misery”.
  • But his response to people falling into fascism is compassionate to the core:

    I don’t want you to be a loser… I care about you. I think you’re worth it. I know that nobody’s perfect. I can tell you this firsthand.

    Whether you… get sucked in by some of Big Tech’s algorithms that push you to the extreme, I can see how it can happen. I think all of us hold some prejudice. There’s no two ways about that. And we have to fight it our whole lives.

    I know this is not the path of least resistance.… It’s easier to hate than it is to learn.

    But remember, easier isn’t better. It isn’t. When you spend your life looking for scapegoats, you take away your own responsibility.…

    No matter how far you have gone, I want you to know that you still have the chance to choose a life of strength. But you have to give up your war against everyone that you hate. Let’s give up that war. …

    You know the war that you really have to fight is the war against yourself. Now it is not easy to look into the mirror and to change your own life.…

    There is still hope for you. There is still time for you. Choose strength. Choose life. Conquer your mind. You can do it.

The Weekend Conclusion

This is brilliant! It is exactly how the religious would describe the process of repentance:

  • Latin repaenitēre (to re-think contritely),
  • Greek μετάνοια (metanoia, changing one’s mind, a transformation of heart),
  • Hebrew תשובה (teshuvah, to turn around, or return to a moral state)

All of them emphasize – compassionately – that there is a path back no matter how far we have strayed. Healing from fascism is not really that different.

As an experiment, I followed him on Twitter for a little bit. Sure, lots of it is about bodybuilding (of no interest to me, to say the least). But just listen to the encouraging & uplifting tone in which he talks to random people who are struggling:

We have the power to make this place positive. That’s our new daily challenge. Who are we pumping up today? Find me someone who needs a boost - let’s lift them up together.

“Let’s lift them up together.” Respect. Compassion. Encouragement. Community. That, ladies and gentlemen, is How It Is Done.

I’m never gonna lift weights, so don’t expect to read about that here on this CLBTNR. But I do aspire to be able to lift spirits, even just a little bit like he does.

I hope I’ve misjudged Schwarzenegger for the last time, and will not repeat that error. I’ll expect the very best from him, from now on. And will, accordingly, listen respectfully.

Notes & References

1: Nope. Not today.

Published Thu 2023-Mar-16

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