Reporter's Note: President Obama had a very busy week what with health care, comments on the Cambridge matter, fundraisers, and a prime time news conference. No doubt he could use a break; maybe a nice movie this weekend! Hence, the subject of my daily letter to the White House.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
As you may recall, I’ve been keeping you up to date on my family’s screenings of great movies over this summer. My younger daughter came up with the idea, and we’ve made reasonable progress. Perhaps if you would quit making me stay late at work by making news so often we’d make even better progress. Ha! Anyway, this week’s selection is kind of an odd one for mid-summer, (speaking of which, we also saw that new film “500 Days of Summer” a few days back…excellent! Really well-written, acted, directed. Four thumbs up from the Foreman family!) but a favorite nonetheless: “Doctor Zhivago.”
Now I know that this film has long been praised for its beautiful cinematography, epic nature, the backdrop of the Russian revolution, the incredible scenes of winter, the drama of life in big times. It’s all wonderful to behold, but what I most love this movie for is a single line, as Komarovski describes Zhivago: “There are two kinds of men and only two. And that young man is one kind. He is high-minded. He is pure. He’s the kind of man the world pretends to look up to, and in fact despises.”
Don’t look for any hidden or secret meaning in my mention of this. I’m not writing with a nod and a wink your way, nor any aspersions either. It’s just that I think that quote can have great meaning for any person, in any station in life, who aspires to goodness.
We have to teach our daughters good manners; how to be decent, caring human beings. Sometimes that has put them at odds with some group that wants to do otherwise, and they have find themselves elbowed from some social circle as a result, just as I have.
At such times, I have mentioned that quote. I tell them being good can often mean being lonely. If you strive for greatness, you must be aware that not everyone shares that goal, and some will resent you for it. Sometimes you will do the right thing in a quest for excellence, in defense of justice, or out of simple compassion for another, and you may be ridiculed for it. Do it anyway. Being lonely, unpopular, even driven from the field, is better than betraying the things you believe in and the trust of those who believe in you.
Maybe I’m reading too much into that old movie. But I wait for that line every time, and in a strange way I take comfort in it. So if you want to come over for the screening, give me a ring. We’ll save a chair. Or four, if you want to bring the family.
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