Thank you all, on Facebook and beyond, for wishing me a happy birthday in so many nice ways.
These many wishes, mostly from strangers, made me think of the one and only message I took away from Gran Torino, an awfully mundane, politically correct flick, in which the white old veteran is depicted as the rank racist; his Hmong neighbors—a South-east Asian minority that contributes significantly to crime in the US—act as founts of multicultural wisdom.
Walt Kowalski, “played with grandstanding gusto and unfakable star quality by Clint Eastwood,” is treated with callousness by his family and great kindness by the cloistered Hmong, who, paradoxically, attempt to rid the old American of his biases.
Consequently, the veteran character bequeaths his worldly goods, including his prized ride, to his Hmong friends. That made good sense to me.
So often the greatest kindness comes from unrelated strangers.