Friday, October 29, 2010

The Last Unicorns

In second grade I saw the most tragic film of my childhood, The Last Unicorn. I remember sitting on the floor, cross-legged, elbow-to-elbow with the other little-ones in that classroom filed with child-sized desks and chairs, before an elevated television. My neck strained from having to tilt my head up at a forty-five degree angle to view the screen.
Though I haven’t seen the movie since that early afternoon in the nineteen-eighties, and I’ve all but forgotten the plot, I can remember commenting on many occasions since then that it was the only movie that ever made me cry, a record that was replaced the day I saw Awakenings with Robert De Niro and Robin Williams.
What I remember of the plot, with a little help from IMDb, is the quest of a unicorn, the last of its kind, seeking the whereabouts of its lost species. This same concept, the last of a particular breed or species searching for clues to the whereabouts of its kind, has been reproduced myriad times in other Hollywood dramas.
Consider Harry, the Sasquatch in Harry and the Henderson’s, or Manny, the mammoth in Ice Age. There is something tragic about the plight of the last-of-a-kind’s quest to discover their lost peers. Most of us have experienced loneliness at some point in our lives, and can empathize with these characters misfortune. They are the extreme minority in a world full of social collectives.
Our world seems to cater to majorities over minorities, on both a political and socio-economic level. While it is true that some minorities have managed to gain political and social attention through carefully organized campaigns, many misfit minorities still have few advocates.
Sadomasochists, prostitutes, anarchists, witches, and even corporate executives are all examples of misfit minorities, who find little representation in this democratic society. The average person spends little time worrying about the civil liberties of the sadomasochist or prostitute. They have a hard time empathizing with millionaire executives, and can’t begin to understand anarchists or witches who espouse political and social views so different from their own. As a member of this latter class, the anarchists, I can relate with the dejected emotions of the last unicorns of the world.
The life of a misfit is one of a perpetual sore tongue from being bitten so often. I rarely find myself in an environment where I feel my opinion is welcome. At first my diffidence kept me from sharing my opinions with others. I soon learned that keeping quiet about my differences, particularly in the classroom setting, resulted in days of regret for not speaking my mind. On the few occasions I did share what I saw as an unwelcome opinion, I was frequently rewarded with an unexpected thanks from someone who shared a similar dissenting view as my own, though not brave enough to share it. These “thank you for sharing” moments filled me with days of gratitude that I had shared my views in the face of a majority of opposing opinions. Now I don’t keep quiet as much, but share my dissent as often as I feel it’s appropriate.
One such rewarding moment happened at a recent Halloween party I held at my home. While parties are not typically the place for serious political discussions, this was my party and I’ll cry if I want to. I’m not sure how the discussion arose, but I was soon engaged in a debate over the fallacies of utilitarianism and the virtues of libertarianism. The gist of my argument was that libertarianism, the notion that you don’t own other people, was not only a more ethical philosophy but was also more pragmatic on a socio-economic level. Like the many other debates I’ve had over the years, I didn’t expect many converts to my ideas. However, a friend I have had for over ten-years was impressed by my words and expressed his agreement with many of my ideas.
Since that night we have shared dozens of text messages and spent hours on the phone discussing these ideas. And unlike the last unicorn, I’ve discovered that there are more of my misfit kind out there in the world. Let it be a lesson to all who conceal their beliefs out of fear of social rejection, they may be missing out on a potentially enduring fraternity.

1 comment:

  1. I loved that movie!I don't suggest seeing it again, it's much better as a memory. Unfortunately I would fall into more of the brainless masses category, most of the time. Damn I'm lazy.