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The Relationship Between

Leni Riefenstahl and Edward Teller

By Roy D. Follendore III

Copyright (c) 2003 by RDFollendoreIII


September 11, 2003

I sense that there is a pattern of underlying truth of function and form to life.  If we take off our shoes we can feel that truth.  For me, I have found that truth can be the mud that oozes between our toes along the Mississippi riverbank and it can be the reality of walking through hot sand at the beach at Cape Hatteras.  There are patterns of truth that any of can know if we are willing to remain open and sense them.  The success that we may have in life is largely dependent on our perspective about the idea of keeping our mind open to both the possibilities that surround us and their implications.   

But the pattern of truth in life is a deeper gain than that from which we somehow may find fortune and greatness from success.  With a greater probability we will also be unfortunate enough to have made greater mistakes.  It is this reason that the choices that we human beings make have as much or more to do with opportunities than with intentions. It may be fortune that sets us apart in greatness but it is misfortune that binds us within our societies. 

For some individuals it is not possible to see beyond the range of our most immediate choices.  They accomplish what history will declare as good and bad things without a greater understanding than their immediate actions. Others become paralyzed by the indecisions that arise from the vision of what their immediate choices will mean. They may fail and in their failing also accomplish things that history may choose to wrap in glory, condemn or perhaps even deny. 

The events of each of our individual lives is a constantly evolving tapestry.  The threads are constantly weaving in patterns that when examined closely are independent but when observed from a distance are both related and interrelated by form and purpose.  As with a tapestry, the pattern of life choices that we make individually transcends the domain of our choices.  People do not have to have known each other to have had a relationship between each other.  

Leni Riefenstahl and Edward Teller shared something that in retrospect appears to have been inevitable. They were different people with respect to gender and in other uncountable ways, but in ways they were also alike in that throughout their lifetime both Leni and Edward held obsessive passions for their work.  It is easy to see the differences in their professions but sometimes it is important to see beyond dissimilarities to find expressions of truth.  What they shared was a kind of blindness of their passion. That may be the ultimate comparison.  Blindness can be such a persuasive disability.

It can be said that these two otherwise very different individuals recognized the potential power of their capabilities and were both ready and willing to use the most powerful of humanity's emerging technologies. They were both willing to allow their work to be used and many say abused, as means to ends by greater political and nationalistic forces that resulted in horrors.

Leni Riefenstahl and Edward Teller shared the twins of acclaim and infamy. They became icons of controversy for their work and for some  they became examples of the international pariah in their respective fields which they loved and within which they were devoted.  They both felt and reacted to those pressures in similar ways.  During the remainder of their lives they both attempted to emphasize the differences between their personal views and objectives, and the realities of what they accomplished.  They both independently attempted to find ways to use their passion for their technology in more peaceful and productive ways that might benefit humanity and both left a legacy in doing so. 

Both Leni and Edward found that in spite of their success, much of the rest of the world did not share their passion. They both spent the remainder of their lives defending their work and their objectives as being a part of the history which was formed around them.  Leni was touted as the Mother of propaganda and given credit for the Nazi rise to power and Edward a as the Father of the H-Bomb after being given credit for the rise of nuclear weapons.  In both cased many 'outsiders' came to believe that the truth was that they both were opportunists, willing to tread on others in order to raise their name above humanity for the power of fame and glory.  If this was true, then they both succeeded in remarkably similar ways.  

I have no idea if Leni and Edward ever met.  Perhaps someone reading this could write and tell me.  I personally doubt that the would have liked each other if they had.  That makes little difference.  Just because two different species can not acknowledge each other does not mean that they are fundamentally all that different within the tapestry.  On this memorial day of two years since the terrorist attacks on America, we may just want to take the time to consider how many such similarities there are between the leaders on our side and those who are our sworn enemies.   




Copyright (c) 2001-2007 RDFollendoreIII All Rights Reserved