My husband has always loved a good Clint Eastwood movie. I can usually pass. That is until I saw “Gran Torino.” As I walked to my car following a packed room at the Beltrami County Board meeting addressing the refugee vote that caused a firestorm of controversy, not only in our area but all across the country, I thought of that movie and how it addressed social issues in a real way.
Clint plays a cold, elderly veteran angry at the world and especially with his new neighbors, who are Asian. His character cannot stand the thought of living next door to people who are seemingly different from him in every way. There is one chaotic scene after another until moral values surface and begin to reject all existing social prejudices. There begins a sacrifice that hinges on a true and real friendship with these people he once despised.
We love the town of Bemidji. I choose to live here after calling places like Boston, Los Angeles, Tucson and Flagstaff, Ariz., my home each for years. We left behind a beautiful farm close to Walker with horses. We love the arts community as well as having a university, hockey, live music and theater. We have a great symphony orchestra, Concordia Language Villages and a wonderful health food coop as well as an active downtown. I love our Native American people here as well.
To those of you who have voiced you will never come here again, I hope you will reconsider. There are many more here who do support opening our doors to refugees. We were blindsided by those who stormed the meeting initially and as surprised as anyone when a vote was decided upon in haste that turned this place upside down. This is a very caring community that opens hearts and pocketbooks for others every day. We need to turn this titanic around and I believe we will.
I wish we could get a free viewing of “Gran Torino” by one of the theaters here in town for people to see the poignant story of a man’s changed heart that in the end sacrificed all he had to his immigrant neighbors, including his life.
I’ll pop the popcorn.