In last night’s episode of Bionic Woman, Jamie Sommers found herself stuck in the role of the only person available to take over the role of a dead assassin whose mission was to kill a nuclear scientists about to sell state of the art technology to North Korea. Great throw-away lines abounded, such as Jamie’s question “Don’t they already have a nuclear bomb?” to which Jonas replies “This one would actually work.”
Jamie cannot bring herself to pull the trigger, since she cannot do what Jae recommended, and not think of the target as a person. She and her sister had spent a few hours on a gondola with this man, Vincent, and his son. It is when we dehumanize others that we cease to value their lives the way we would want ours to be valued, forgetting that devaluing and dehumanizing also works both ways.
When Jae promises that “it gets easier”, Jamie wisely responds “That’s what I’m afraid of”.
I’ve recently heard a violin teacher say “practice makes permanent“. We all know the more familiar “practice makes perfect“, but in fact practice only makes perfect if you are practicing correctly. Bad habits can also become permanent, and if learning is hard, the unlearning that sometimes needs to take place before we can learn is harder.
I’m sure other birdwatching fans noticed the sound of an Eastern Wood Pewee – which may suggest that the episode wasn’t actually filmed in Montana, where it was set. We had a pewee along the creek behind our house for most of this past summer, and its entertaining song is highly recognizable to me now. I’ve learned to recognize a lot of the regular avian visitors to our bird feeder and our neighborhood, with time and some effort. Practice makes permanent.
(I have a feeling the pewee annoyed the film crew, who tried to get as much footage without its distracting call as they could. They give it a final salute at the very end of the episode, suggesting that it made an impression on them.)
Confucius had some wise words to offer about practice and permanence towards the end of his life:
At fifteen I set my heart on learning; at thirty I was firmly established; at forty I had no more doubts; at fifty I knew the will of heaven; at sixty I was willing to listen to it; at seventy I could follow my heart’s desire without transgressing what is right.
What we do regularly will become second nature to us – even the habit of not spending time on any one thing.
To make a choice to not let killing someone become easier, to not dehumanize, is commendable in itself. To do it consistently, so that it becomes second nature to treat others as we would want to be treated, is a real accomplishment. Well done, writers of the script for Bionic Woman – I hope you get the raise you are seeking!