Have you ever felt ostracized or “picked on” for any particular reason? Maybe it was because of your ethnicity or you didn’t quite fit in. Your wardrobe was dated or you didn’t have “the look” of the cool kids. I think all of us can say we have at one time felt this way about ourselves. We longed to be accepted into the normal group or the group that seemed to have everything going for it. Actually, at the base of it, I think we all want to be accepted for who we are and want to function and feel free to be that person in whatever circumstances we‘re in.
In District 9, the aliens have landed but are unable to move their ship because of some power outage. They are stranded and so have no recourse but to allow the humans to do with them what they will. Because of their antagonistic behavior, but mostly I think, because of their fearsome appearance (they look like big “prawns”) they are forced to live in a rough, mostly dirt and brush-like environment on the outskirts of Johannesburg, called “District 9.” They are left to fend for themselves and they do not have jobs nor do they have the opportunity to find jobs. They scrounge around in the dump (because that’s where they are) for things to eat and for whatever might be of use to them. As a result of their incarceration, they become lazy and they are obviously just killing time, getting drunk or getting into fights with one another.
One particular human who I’ll shorten his first name as “Wikus.” The prawns become
Wikus’ responsibility to supervise their move from District 9 to another area which is not really explained but seems to be a smaller and a more controlled area.
First of all, I wondered why the humans never took the time to talk or reason with the prawns. They are able to communicate with one another but instead of trying to understand one another and even try to help them find their way back home, the humans choose to overpower and make the prawns “captives.” It is obvious to me that the prawns have a superior intelligence and outstanding knowledge of technology because they knew how to build a spaceship of that size and somehow were able to fly to earth. Maybe they were even looking for help and were hoping to find a place of refuge on earth. It always seems to me that even in our regular interactions with people, we tend to make judgments based on appearances rather than look at the heart or motive behind the behavior. Granted this is more difficult to do, but aren’t we all called to a higher level as human beings? Who is the more “civilized” people in this movie? It certainly doesn’t seem like the treatment of the prawns is civilized.
We can look back in history and see how people that were seen as different were looked upon as “inferior” and robbed of their personal and human rights. I think of our Jewish brothers and sisters throughout history, but particularly during WWII. Even before them, the American Indians, the first “civilized” nation of people to inhabit the America’s, were cast aside, robbed of their lands and placed on reservations. Then, of course there is the whole issue of slavery and the continued prejudice and mistreatment of the African-Americans.
This brings me to another concern. Those of us in the church with a focus on not appearing “different” have a hard time with the supernatural. The supernatural or prophetic seems too much like what we see on TV or in the movies, where religious people are “crazy,” talking to themselves and don’t seem to have a handle on reality. What is that about? I know because I was one of those skeptics. However, now that I feel like I have become “one of them,” just as the character, Wikus, at the end of the movie, becomes a “prawn,” I have seen “the other side” and experienced what it’s like to be in another realm that is outside of our earthly reality. I know of what I speak and even though I don’t look any different on the outside, on the inside, I have changed to a “prawn.” My spiritual DNA is different just as Wikus’ DNA changed to that of a prawn. I can never go back to where I was or what I was before! I can’t go back to where I’ve been. It would be like Wikus trying to live like a human but now he is a “prawn.” We don’t “fit in” anymore.
All of us want a measure of understanding and acceptance of who we are, no matter if we look like a prawn or blond or a brunette. We are all looking for that recognition and affirmation. For me, I have received that overwhelming feeling of unconditional love and acceptance in going where I’ve gone with God, and I can’t ever go back.