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Faith Meets Life: Seeing life through the eyes of Bourne

Michael Veenema | Interrobang | Opinion | September 17th, 2007

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.
Jason Bourne has a lot to teach us. Take, for example, driving. A driving lesson with Bourne would be a lot more interesting than the routine, drab ones we all remember. For example when approaching an intersection, I was taught to look for the colour of the traffic light and, say, stop if it was red. I am sure that with Bourne as a driving instructor, less conventional responses to traffic lights, stop signs and pedestrians would be covered.

Other things he could cover would be how to race the wrong way on high-speed roads, how to ram police cars, how to walk out of car pile-ups and, my favourite, how to exit a multi-story parking lot.

There are also themes in the Bourne movies about telling the truth, caring for the people you love, and (not to mention) how to travel the world on government money.

But there's also a great question that Jason Bourne, during foot chases and gun fights, manages to ask: Do you like what you've become?

When, in the Bourne Identity, he discovers that he's a multi-million dollar piece of “government property” who has been trained to kill without asking questions, he has, it could be said, some reservations. The plot revolves around his coming to understand, and then trying to shake off that identity. Ditto for the Ultimatum.

As far as I can tell, the Bourne series is a kind of cautionary tale. It encourages us to look into the mirror and ask if we like what we've become. Here's what I mean. Bourne is an extreme product of the modern world. He's been shaped by professional psychologists, given a mission to defend the modern nation state, is guided by CIA officials who have the latest information tech stuff at their fingertips, and has a range of modern tools available to him, from phones to guns.

This isn't to say that everything is going to pot in a shopping cart. But it might not hurt to ask if we really like everything we are becoming. Do we want soldiers fighting wars on our behalf in poorly understood distant lands? Can we depend on Canadian border security to treat all people fairly? Do we like the size of the carbon footprint we are leaving on the planet? Isn't our level of consumption literally destroying the world? Are we entertaining ourselves into a state of stupidity? And, maybe even, are we complicit in the kind of security shenanigans we see depicted in the Bourne series? The CBC recently reported (again) that a few decades ago crackpot psychiatry destroyed many Canadians in a Quebec institution funded by the, really, CIA.

Jason Bourne can be seen as a graphic illustration of what the modern world can do to people. He ends up questioning what it did to him. “Look what we've become.” And that's not a bad question for individuals and societies to ask.
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