Welcome to the first installment of ” Little Man ” .
I am Kristian Kiehling and this is a monthly podcast covering everyday life from a filmmakers point of view .
part one : The ” Little Man “
A short while long ago I had the chance to meet somebody whose perspective on the world was surprisingly different from my own .
We became friends and I gave him the nickname ” Little Man ” .
As it sometimes can happen in good friendships my own perspective of the world began to change a little through the course of our interaction . I mean that in a positive way . After all, we are living in a world of ideas and concepts that are manufactured for us by others . Plus , these days we are subjected to a constant stream of ideas in the digital universe . We seem to be totally wired to a collective conscience but we find ourselves isolated and alone at the same time .
I recently had a conversation with an engineer for example .
He was telling me of a peculiar feeling of his – he said he ‘ d recently discovered a void in his life . He said although he ‘ d been trying to fill this empty space with a hobby he now had arrived at a point where this no longer seemed possible . He explained that he suspected that something might be missing in his life on a spiritual level . He was at a point where he ‘d even contemplated about becoming involved in religion .
The digital revolution has brought about a massive change to our socio – cultural world .
But despite certain claims made by a Mr . Zuckerberg for example
virtual reality is not giving us a sense of meaning at all .
On the contrary , the pseudo social networks are void of meaning .
And what ‘ s more – I believe the digital age has even altered our perception of the real world . Anyway that ‘ s what has happened with me and that ‘ s what I want to tell you about .
Not far from where I work there is a small public park . I use it often for the occasional walk .This park has recently gained notoriety as a hub for illegal substances . Naturally this has resulted in conflicts between the drug dealers and local residents . The clients of the dealers are mostly white kids and tourists whereas the dealers are of African origin . This has led to the emergence of racial stereotyping in connection to the drug trade . The police were racially profiling people of color and the conflict went on to become entrenched along the usual lines . Now I myself read a lot and I therefore assumed to be able to connect the dots . However it turned out I was wrong . I started to notice how my tolerance and respect for my fellow human beings was decreasing . The ” foreigners ” in our park and their illegal business affected me to a point where I started to perceive them as a threat . I was no longer able to view the situation in its wider context . I was shocked to notice that I started blaming the foreigners for everything . I was even experiencing physical discomfort which made me stop going to the park altogether . I just could not take it any more being constantly hustled by the drug pushers . In short , I had lost control . I had closed my mind off of the real world . I had forgotten how to interact with the world around me .
This is where the ” Little Man ” comes in .
At this point I ‘ ll have to mention a certain character trait of his : the Little Man is probably the most unbiased person and he is totally connected to the world around him .
In addition to that he is the only person I know who lives radically off the grid . He seems to go by the ancient Greek wisdom ” treat foreigners like you ‘ d treat your friends because you never know – they might be Gods in human shape ” . The ” Little Man ” walks the streets greeting friends and foreigners indiscriminately . He waves his hand at everybody and goes ” Hi , Hi ” And if somebody doesn’t return the greeting he seems to be saying to himself ” No worries , I ‘ ll get you next time ” .
Anyway , the Little Man insisted we go to the park together .
I reluctantly agreed . And now something beautiful happened . As soon as the dealers started hustling us he simply greeted them in the friendliest manner . Suddenly , grim faces lightened up and everyone broke into wide smiles . Dealers were waving back at us , wishing us a good day . It even came to a cordial chat here and there . To my surprise I noticed that my vague fear was receding by and by . It began to dawn on me that the threat I had seen in the drug dealers had nothing to do with them .
On the contrary : my fear of them was caused by my warped perception of the situation . And this perception was shaped not by my own experiences with them but rather by the virtual bubble I was living in .
This experience shocked me because I became aware that my way of acting prior to this incident had actually had a negative effect not only on me myself but also on the real world around me .
Before , I had taken the seemingly easy path of labeling the situation in a convenient way . I was no longer aware of the world around me and curious as one should be .
My experience with the ” Little Man ” in the park reminds me of a fundamental fact of film making :
Art represents the possibility of total freedom . It can be a weapon in the struggle against the material world that destroys our spirit .
Art is possibly the last resort we have in a life which should be free of consumption and the pressures of a performance oriented society .
And film making can even be more – it can be a tool for democracy .
Because democracy requires empathy . Empathy for our fellow citizens as well as for those who live among us but are denied citizenship .
You know my parents used to say to me when I was little : ” Never talk to strangers ” because they wanted to protect me .
Now shouldn’t we rather teach our children exactly the opposite ?
Shouldn’t we rather cultivate dialogue to counter the prevalent erosion of civil discourse ?
That would be a truly alternative draft to the anti social virtual universe that our lives are now wired to .That would be a worthy design for a truly social universe .
If we were to create such an alternative space to interact with one another on a spiritual and cultural level then maybe even the need for people to escape the reality by using opiates would also go away ? OK ,you might say this is naive .
But after all , the whole concept of us versus them is naive .
There is no other . There is only us .
This was the first installment of ” Little Man ” . Thank you very much for listening . The next installment will follow in one months time – on the 3rd of January 2018 .
I am Kristian Kiehling
Stay tuned .