On Peace and Happiness: Inspiration from The Book Thief

On Peace and Happiness: Inspiration from The Book Thief

the-book-thief books destroyed

What is peace? What is a moment of happiness? For many who live in the 21st modern century, we look for goals to achieve, dreams to actualize, meanings to find. We do so, because that is what everyone does. Or it is because deep within each and every of us lies the beautiful soul which seeks beyond the physical gratification. Our souls connect us with one and other, and the surrounding world.

Yet not everyone look out for the innerness of self, because it simply is not easy to do so. We want to live, simply as there is so much we can own something under the cosmopolitan society. The Things created by the people, and we fall for the gratification they arouse. We fall into the repeated trapping cycle – we are addicted to the moments of gratification, and then slowly realize how short and temporary the sensation lasts, and that is not what we may want in life, until another flow of opportunities floods us and we then become lost in the chase of the gratifying moments.

Perhaps it is when we lose the many chances then we come to turn to the simplicity of humanity. In the movie of The Book Thief, Liesel, the girl as the main character, who began living with her German adoptive family after the tragic loss of her brother and her mother’s disappearance. There was never a chance for her to learn to read, and that was probably how her obsession of books came from – the hunger to absorb the beauty of words. She became a thief of books for the enhancement of her world of knowledge and using it as the communication channel with the others, particularly the secretly sheltered Jewish refugee, Max, who had to stay under dark in her family’s underground storage room, and purely rely on words of imagination for hanging on.  Under the everyday fear of own death, as well as others’ lives being taken away, what more could one hope for?

the book thief_reading

I was touched by the girl’s simple wish to connect with the world of knowledge under the blast of bombs, and the sharing with the others which brought a drop of water onto the desert.

There was this scene which stayed on my mind,

“There once was a ghost of boy who liked to live in the shadows of things. So that he would not frighten people…”
There Liesel shared a story to the others as everyone was hiding under the common tunnel, in fear of the sounds of explosions. I saw the many faces with fear, yet more the hunger for the story as if it was the only thing they could hold onto.

A desperate grasp of a moment of peace. Connection. Something that none can find in the second world war. Today we still remember the history, for its reminder to us how treasurous peace and connection once were 60 years ago, and how knowledge and books seemed so far to reach.

Many of us are born to be blessed and be lucky. And yet we are also connected with the past which shaped into who we are today. Now I look around me, and hear the cries in West Africa for the lives taken away from Ebola Virus. 

   In Syria, near 50% population was forced to flee homeland; in Iraq the second largest city, Mosul was captured and controlled since the rise of the Islamic State which has terrorized the whole Middle East area with its brutal tactics of mass killings and dehumanizing abductions. 

   Other Islamic movements, notably the Nigerian group have also caused fear and tension, notably the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls. 

   In Ukraine, it remains uncertain the number of the increasing Russian movements in the area, yet so far as much as 2,600 people has been killed in war, as well as the 298 innocent passengers and crew from the Malaysian Airlines MH17. 

   The war between Israel and Gaza has not just caused more than 2,000 deaths, but also the destruction of more than 100,000 people homeless, and no any improvement of situation. 

   Other countries are also not at ease, Estonia, Finland, and other neighboring countries are also battling between own benefits and moral rights under the above military movements. 

   I also sit within Hong Kong, my home city which is currently under the political war over the Mainland China’s intention to restrain top power of the local government, yet the protesting locals are in their battles with own benefits, hence the losing harmony and spirit of the whole city.

At this moment I am equally amazed and chilled by the length of “disasters” we mankind has created in a short length of a year time. I picture the anxiety and isolation the people feel for the loss of peace and freedom. Not for many, but some who are under the tragic loss of their loved ones whose lives are brutally taken away, and the homes they have passed from generations to generations, and spent years for decorating and maintaining are destroyed in seconds. Many whose lives are built on the belief of religion and purposes are beheaded and tortured, and I cannot imagine the equally if not the even more suffering in heart. And all people are living in terror whether they can face the next day, let alone a good night sleep with peace of silence.

So much is going on in the world. We are all at the middle of the war. The bloody war of power, money and control. We, whether in actual war or not, are all fallen into the hands of manipulations, corruption, and most the selfishness and greediness. We are all the gluttons for more and more, and we forget the “coming from” of wanting.

Let us simply treasure our moments of peace and happiness.

The simplicity of beauty.

The pursuit of humanity.

Let us picture on our minds the image of this little girl, with the book securely grabbed by her hands, and her eyes intently on the beauty of worlds, and their creation of the world of imagination and knowledge.

Peace and Happiness.


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