Sunday, December 10, 2006

Movie: Akeelah and the Bee (great movie)

"Akeelah and the Bee" is an exceptionally heartwarming film. My kids were all thoroughly enthralled by it. It is about an 11 year old girl who has an exceptional talent for remembering and spelling all kinds of words. Her talent was discovered early in school and soon, the film depicts her journey towards to finals in the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition. While there is rivalry and competitiveness in the film, what is most powerful in the film is the humanness that is inside all of us. While we all wanted to win, we badly want to love as well.

The quotation below marked the beginning of Akeelah's journey towards getting into the championshops of the Spelling Bee.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us, it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.
" (**)

The conclusion of the movie is touching and shows us a lot about competition and its potential to bring out the worse in people. People say competition is good in terms of getting the best quality work done. However, it can often become bad when competitors backstab one another in order to stay ahead. The movie very carefully teaches us, that competitiveness can bring out the best in people, if one learns to see that winning or losing is not everything. Love and appreciating one another for who they are matters more.

While some people tend to treat "Being the Best" as the one and only person, Akeelah and her archrival Dylan became not only great sparring partners but cheered each other on to do their best, without hoping to win on the basis of the opponent's weakness but on their own strengths. We need such an attitude in this world of cutthroat competitive environment in almost everything. Competition becomes bad, when people seek to win at all costs, even at the expense of another person. If competition can bring out not only the technical best of each person, but the best humanity, where competitors cheer one another on to do their respective best, winning on the basis of merit rather than opponent's mistakes, it will make winning so much more meaningful. Moreover, friendships can be forged even at a competitive level.

Go watch the movie and be inspired.


** Marianne Williamson, Return to Love (Peter McLaughlin: Harper Collins, 1992), 191-192.

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