Yesterday I looked at how the movie El Cid speaks clearly into the political landscape of today. Today I want to look at another pertinent issue which the movie illustrates brilliantly: religious cooperation.
El Cid, the 11th century Spanish hero, successfully defended the Spanish homeland against the attack of the North African Muslim invaders.
How does he do it?
It all starts at the beginning of the movie when there are clashes between the Moors (Muslim) currently living in Spain and the Christians. Of course, there was a lot of religious conflict at the time. El Cid captures two Moor kings, and since they are his prisoners, he gets to decide what happens to them. He gives them their freedom and they both pledge support and allegiance to El Cid and the Spanish king. Many of the Spanish Christians are upset that he showed the Moors mercy.
His kindness is repaid when one of the Moor kings fends off an attack against El Cid by another Muslim army. This strengthens their friendship which eventually will pay great dividends for each other.
In the end, the Christians and Muslims of Spain unite together to fight off the attack of the ruthless Muslim invaders from North Africa who are determined to destroy Spain.
Now, of course, this is a Hollywood version and they play fast and loose with some history here. But the lesson remains, it is beneficial when different religions seek respect and mutual help and support.
El Cid was a devout Christian, but he treated his Muslim brothers with respect. He respected their food choices; he respected their traditions; he gave them a reason to trust him and respect him right back. And through his actions, a friendship and bond between complete strangers who are opposite in most every way was created. One of the films great scenes is when there is a tense moment when El Cid’s Christian army is on one side of the river and Moor King’s army is on the other side. Neither knows what is going to happen. Then out steps El Cid and the king into the middle of the stream and they hug each other. Both banks of the river elicit joyous sounds as the two sides come together and greet each other with peace and friendship.
Another great lesson for our day and age from El Cid. Please watch if you haven’t. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054847/