The Motorcycle Diaries and the Making of a Revolutionary

Just finished watching the DVD of “The Motorcycle Diaries”. I read a bit about Che Guevara’s life many years back. Here in Singapore, as in many places in the world, Che’s face has become a famous icon seen frequently on many T-shirts. Yet few know who he really was. To many, his rugged good looks is seen as “cool”. For me, I’ve always associated Che with being an exemplary and compassionate human being since I first read of him.

The movie is really about the Che’s journey throughout Latin America. I knew this much before. People who know me well know that I seldom watch movies in cinemas because they are just too expensive. And I have better things to do when out with my friends than to spend it on an anti-social activity. And so I had never watched this movie before. Had I known this wasn’t just about Che’s journey but really about how this journey transformed his life and planted the seeds that made him a revolutionary, I would have watched it sooner.

In the movie, we see the virtues that mattered to Che: honesty, truth, compassion and idealism. We see how the poor and suffering moved him and how his experience and knowledge of poverty and injustice in Latin America forever changed the direction of his life. We see compassion in action: giving his only US$15 to a poor couple, sacrificing his own asthma medicine for a dying woman, being the first person in a leper colony to shake hands with lepers without the compulsory protective gloves (thus recognizing the dignity they deserve as human beings) and swimming bravely across the Amazon River (which nearly cost him his life) which seperated the health care workers from lepers in order to celebrate his birthday with the lepers as well. He had no patience for such inhumane segregation.

The movie is definitely an inspiration for me. I love reading and watching about how experiences transform people’s lives, making them want to live more radical and compassionate lives for the poor, suffering and oppressed. I hope more people who are familiar with Che the icon will find out what truly made this man great.

Watching this movie in Spanish – as when I watch other movies with a Latin feel to it – makes me fall in love with the Spanish language and the region of Latin America all over again. I really need to improve my Spanish!

Lastly, when one day I speak fluent Spanish, I would really love to travel Latin America just like Che did. Argh…that would be a bloody awesome experience! Won’t be terribly safe, but I don’t really care! Inside, there is this adventurous spirit in me. When I was in Bogotá, Colombia, I really didn’t care whether I would be kidnapped by the FARC. Actually, I thought that would be a wonderful experience. Coz I know that nothing bad would happen to me because I’m not White =) But seriously, travelling Latin America would be a dream. I would love to take a couple of years just travelling and going where the mighty Wind leads me – without much money, without much possessions, without any planning but just going with the flow. And who knows, I may settle down somewhere and start doing development & missions work and helping the poor. Now, that’s a dream – that will probably never come true…

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