Gal Gadot may be an actress playing in a fantasy film, but the truth that this story tells of human nature stems deep in her Jewish roots and is vital for our world today.
The Israel-starred film Wonder Woman has been making news for being exceptionally successful and also for being banned in Muslim countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia. But perhaps most important is the relevant message it drives home about the darkness of human nature and the need for love and connection that will save our world and humanity from itself.
In the film, the heroine realizes that the evil she wished to eradicate was not in her power to overcome. She discovered that evil was not inherent to one person or group, but rather to man’s nature itself. This, she understood, could only be healed by humanity choosing love over hate.
This insight is important to our lives in very real ways. War is still taking place around the globe; despite our technological advancement a great part of the world lives in hunger and poverty, and as humans, we are still destroying this planet. No sophistication has yet been able to create such cooperation between people and nations that would solve any of these issues. On the personal level, drug addictions, loneliness, divorce rates and depression are skyrocketing. Ego driven behaviors, greed, self interest, separation and hate are still corrupting our lives in every way.
The film doesn’t quite answer the deep questions, such a disturbing truth raises, but the very discussion is vital for our world today, a world on the brink of destruction at the hands of human beings and the egoism that drives them.
To find answers, a deeper look into Gadot’s heritage can be useful.
The Method of Correction
It is written in the first chapters of the Bible that “the inclination of man’s heart is evil from youth” (Gen 8:21). But not only did Jewish sages understand the nature of man, they also discovered the means to correct it.
For thousands of years the Jewish people has been carrying within them a method to turn man’s nature from egoism and hatred, into the love of others. Phrases such as “love thy neighbor as thyself “ and “do not do to others what you hate”, serve as clues to the great wisdom that was hidden, and to its purpose.
Abraham the patriarch discovered the opposition between man’s egoistic nature and the harmony and symbiosis in which all of nature exists. He found that it is possible to correct this dissonance through learning to connect and love others above self-interest, and that doing so opens up new levels of awareness, and the ability to influence our interconnected reality for the better.
Meant for All Humankind
The method which was later elaborated by a long line of Jewish sages, encoded in the Bible and all other Jewish texts, was always meant for all of humankind. The Jewish people itself are but a collection of representatives of all other nations, who flocked to Abraham and his teachings, or joined this Spiritual group later on. King David and Rabbi Akiva for example, are two prominent Jewish figures who came from a family of converts. This may explain the ambiguity of the Jewish identity, as was expressed in another conversation the film has provoked. In truth Jews are neither white nor a people of color, they transcend identity politics. They came together from all different tribes of ancient Babylon, to find an alternative of unity to the way of war which even then was already devastating humanity.
Although the Jewish people succeeded in transforming their own natures, from hatred to the love of others, and lived in bliss for a period of time, this could not last. Designed to be a role model or, to quote the film, “a bridge to a higher understanding” and nothing else, the cure for human nature was never meant for them alone. And so they descended from their spiritual heights into hatred once more, and dispersed among the rest of the nations. Gradually their higher awareness was distinguished and their mission forgotten, but their role and responsibility remained.
For this reason the Jews have been accused throughout history of all of the world’s harms, and this is why they continue to be blamed today. Subconsciously, the people of the world sense that Jews hold the key to all that is good, to the transformation that our shattered world must undergo.
A Light Unto Nations
To this day, the Jewish people is a diverse microcosms of humanity. Words such as “tikkun olam” and “a light unto the nations” are still occasionally uttered, even in response to this film, yet their inner meaning is mostly forgotten. However the method itself that Abraham first taught, is beginning to resurface.
Thousands of people of all different nations, religions, colors and opinions are already learning to unite above their differences. In these times that many feel are dark and threatening it is imperative that this ability to rise above our natures and choose love, is spread and taught.
Finding The Hero Within
Wonder Woman is timely and significant in that it urges us to find the heroic voice within us that calls for love above hate as a solution to all the crises that we face.
A Washington Post Letter to the Editor by Amie Leonard expressed this well: “Wonder Woman should provide a beacon of light and hope in a time that feels overwhelmed by darkness.”
The film is being highly praised and Gadot’s performance has entered the hearts of many. This is another sign that it is now time to step beyond the fantasy, to fulfill our human potential at last.