"Tea with Mussolini"

with Cher

Viewed November 18, 2000

In spite of its title and its wartime setting, this movie had very little violence in it and was actually replete with many touching scenes of people caring about each other and helping each other out. One particularly touching scene showed an older woman played by Cher reassuring a young man about how much his mother had actually loved him. That scene provided the basis for Question #4, which is what we spent the majority of the evening discussing.

We tackled the question of how much it's healthy to want/need/crave validation from others. Some of us thought that we only need to obtain validation from ourselves and depend on ourselves alone for the encouragement we need in order to keep on keeping on. Others said that feedback and validation from others has made a huge difference in their lives, and that they were actually proud of the fact that they were able to admit they need other people. They didn't want to just put on the self-sufficient, John Wayne, I-don't-need-anyone-else facade any more. Instead, they like the nourishment and assistance they receive from others. In fact, for them the image of self-sufficiency is one of the illusions that they have staunchly defended in the past (Question #7), and they believe that it has turned out to be false.

The idea of validation led us into Carl Rogers' idea of Unconditional Positive Regard. Someone used that term, and we agreed that it was easier to think about than unconditional love (because the word love is loaded with a lot of other meanings, and so it becomes a lot more confusing). We all admitted that we don't want to unconditionally accept what people DO, but some of us felt we had at times been able to unconditionally feel positive feelings towards who people ARE. This was especially helpful for us when the people in question were people who irritated or angered us, because allowing ourselves to accept them freed up an enormous amount of energy that we had been expending by resisting them, their actions, and reality in general. Someone commented that they had realized that unconditional positive regard helped them as much as it helped the person they were feeling acceptance towards.

Here are the questions:


  1. How do I respond to injustices that I observe towards myself and other people?
  2. How compassionate can I be in the face of great odds?
  3. When have I stood up for what I believe in, and how did I do it?
  4. What part of me/my life do I most crave validation for?
  5. How have I eliminated labeling other people? How do I react when I see others labeled?
  6. Why do I trust?
  7. What illusions have I staunchly defended in the past that turned out to be false?