“I suppose journalists try to look deeper into the pond,” says Mark Boal in the current “Seeing” issue of Parabola. “Sometimes they find ancient, brutal fish down there, sometims they just see a reflection of themselves.” The investigative journalist and Oscar-winning screenwriter is very much in the news today because the current film he is working with Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (the pair made The Hurt Locker) on a film about Navy SEAL Team 6′s hunt for Osama bin Laden.
New York Republican Congressman Peter King has called for an investigation into the Obama Administration’s cooperation with the untitled movie after Maureen Dowd wrote a column in The New York Times reporting that the film received cooperation and help in describing a mission that was classified. The filmmakers released the following statement:
“Our upcoming film project about the decade long pursuit of Bin Laden has been in the works for many years and integrates the collective efforts of three administrations, including those of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, as well as the cooperative strategies and implementation by the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency. Indeed, the dangerous work of finding the world’s most wanted man was carried out by individuals in the military and intelligence communities who put their lives at risk for the greater good without regard for political affiliation. This was an American triumph, both heroic, and non-partisan and there is no basis to suggest that our film will represent this enormous victory otherwise.” Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal.
The film will be released in Oct. 12, 2012, in the midst of the U.S. Presidential campaign. Politics–ephemeral, dirty, venal politics–very likely motivated King’s charge. Yet the night that President Obama announced that bin Laden was killed, Boal and Bigelow were already working on a film that focused on an earlier attempt by the Navy SEALs to hunt down the Al-Qaeda leader. The pair are passionate seekers of truth in their way and they had already done a great deal of research on the ground, so it didn’t take long to change the movie, especially the ending.
A White House spokesman called the charge that Boal and Bigalow were getting secret information or preferential treatment “ridiculous.” I believe it is. Boal, an investigative journalist, used contacts in the military and the Middle East to add veracity to The Hurt Locker. Why would they be less interested in helping shape a movie about the hunt for bin Laden? Indeed, I know that the military has cooperated with many movies. I wrote a story about a meditation club in the Pentagon years ago (perhaps I’ll share it here), and my contacts there proudly spoke of the military cooperation in many movies, including The Hunt for Red October, Top Gun, and other films.
Now to the important point. Why should someone like me, working at a journal like Parabola comment on this uproar, so fleeting and soon to be replaced? Why should I write about the riots in England for that matter? Because we can reflect on the news in a different way, not reacting but reflecting deeply. I’ve begun to see how we can learn to be still and let the stirred-up murk of the news cycle settle down so that deeper truths and longings can appear. It is possible to be in the midst of a turbulent world with equanimity, to seek more awareness, not just more facts. At a meditation group I lead on Sunday nights, a man described this quality of equanimity as being like a flow-through tea bag, allowing life to flow through us without resistance. What can come from such an attitude, which I think of as stillness-in-the-world, non-resistance to all that is arising, joy and terror? It is a preparation.
“The question is not what to do but how to see,” says Jeanne de Salzmann in “Seeing” (probably the first time that name has been linked with the leaking of U.S. military secrets). “Seeing is the most important thing–the act of seeing.”
Don’t shrink from the world; seek to see what is really happening. Seeing clearly, insights, even noble truths can appear in the midst of this burning world.