The Thing I Like About…

Independence Day: the part where Mr. Nimzicki sits down with the kids in a prayer circle.

Albert Nimzicki is an advisor to the President; when the aliens attack Earth, he gives the pragmatic and sensible advice he had been trained to give.  But his advice is counterproductive and often callous to the point of amorality.  He doesn’t seem to be a bad man per se, but the audience cheers in relief when the President fires Mr. Nimzicki and takes over the counter-attacks himself.

Of course, the counter-attack depends on a thousand factors going precisely well, and “just in case”, the survivors in the underground Area-51 facility barricade the doors and try to prepare for the worst.  Julius Levinson – a man who has “not spoken to God” since his wife died – kneels with the children in a circle and invites them to join hands.  Mr. Nimzicki observes the circle; he is also invited to join, but he hesitates.  “I’m not Jewish,” he says.  Julius shrugs.  “Nobody’s perfect,” he tells him, and brings him into the circle.  And Mr. Nimzicki sits down and reaches out to hold hands with the people on either side of him.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if we believe in God or not; what matters to Julius, Mr. Nimzicki, and the children is that, if there is a God, that God is as present as possible, and, if there isn’t one, at least other humans were there – for comfort, for warmth, for whatever happens.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if Mr. Nimzicki has been a dork or if he’s right or wrong; what matters is that there are no qualifications or expectations to enter the circle of hope and fellowship – except that we must be willing to sit down and reach out to the people on either side of us.  Mr. Nimzicki’s not perfect.  No one is perfect.  But we are able, at any time, to give of ourselves to others who are frightened, and to take from others the knowledge that we are not alone.


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