Category Archives: Films

Five Broken Cameras

If you haven’t already seen the 2011 documentary film “Five Broken Cameras,” please go to Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, or the PBS/POV website asap and do so! This is an amazing film about a small village in the Occupied West Bank and a courageous Palestinian farmer who filmed demonstrations there against illegal Israeli settlements and the building of a so-called security wall that cut villagers off from their land. The story is interwoven with the story of the filmmaker’s family, especially that of his youngest son, who watches the death of a friend at Israeli hands.

Films like this can be watched for free for a limited time at pbs.org/pov, so hurry if you don’t have the other services. You can also go to the filmmaker’s website, emadburnat.com to offer your support.

As Americans, we need to do whatever we can to oppose our country’s support of illegal Israeli policies against Palestinians. Not satisfied with having taken most of their land, the Israeli government is determined to take the rest by making life untenable in Gaza and the Occupied Territories. Not only does this take a devastating toll on the Palestinian people (who’ve suffered this way for over 65 years), but it’s tearing up a beautiful, ancient land of hills planted with olive trees. We see beautiful, probably very old olive trees being uprooted with bulldozers and burned by Israeli settlers in this film, as well as a little Palestinian boy (the filmmaker’s son, Gibreel) offering an olive branch to an Israeli soldier.

Watch it, and see for yourself.

I have a long list of other films and books on the subject that I’ll post about in the future.

Ready for the revolution?

Ready for the Revolution?

My first experience with Occupy Wall Street, the current and only hope of a revolution in the U.S., was seeing a chalked message on the asphalt of the bike path I often walk on. I can’t remember the exact wording of it, but in neat, jut-the-right-size letters it invited the reader, as one of the 99%, to go to the website. I did, and discovered that the movement, which didn’t seem to have gained much traction at that point, had been started by the Canadian media literacy group Adbusters. The message only stayed on the walkway for a few days before someone completely washed it off.

A few days later, I saw a big newspaper ad, in red, white, and black, asking, “Ready for the revolution in…?” whatever they were advertising. I cut out the “Ready for the Revolution” part and pinned it to my bulletin board. But a few days ago the thought came to me, “Am I really? What if the revolution turns out to be just as awful in its own way – or worse than – the current situation? After all, despite my beliefs, I’m pretty comfortable here.” I tossed that around for a day or two, and finally realized that, whatever happens in the future – revolution, no revolution, or other things entirely – my best bet will be to try to respond as I’m trying to respond now – according to my best values: with as much love, compassion, non-violence, and non-judgment as possible, while standing up for what I believe is right – inclusiveness, equality, dignity, and direct democracy – with as much courage as I can muster.

I also realize that the best way to affect the outcome, however minutely, is to put in my two cents/my oar/my granito de arena. The last phrase (“grain of sand” in Spanish) comes from the film “Granito,” which I was fortunate enough to see last night at the Good Works Film Festival here in Eugene. It’s a Mayan peasant expression brought to the world by Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu, a friend of the filmmaker, Pamela Yates. The solution to problems is collective – we all need to put in our grains of sand. Which doesn’t mean we, as individuals, will necessarily approve of the short-term outcome (and all outcomes in our lifetimes are short-term). It’s just the best we can do.

What dream do you live in?

What Dream Do You Live In?

In his books on spirituality, Miguel Ruiz says we each live in a dream that seems so real we think of it as “reality.” Some of the dream we make up ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, but a lot of it we get from our families, our culture, and the mass media. This is the “consensual reality” that enables us to interact with each other without too much friction, at least in our own groups.

Political writer Richard Moore has a similar way of looking at this, based on the popular 1999 science fiction-action film “The Matrix.” The film depicts a future in which most humans are “living” in a simulated reality created by sentient machines to pacify and subdue them. They think they’re living fairly pleasant, active lives in 1999, but they’re actually floating passively in closely spaced pods 200 years later, their brains connected to towers that send them Matrix “information.” Neo, the film’s hero, becoming suspicious, is led to a man named Morpheus, who understands what’s going on. Morpheus offers Neo a choice of two pills: a blue one that will let him continue the “life” he’s known, and a red one that will allow him to learn the truth about the Matrix. Neo swallows the red pill, and is eventually drawn into a rebellion against the machines mounted by others freed from the Matrix dream world into reality.

Moore’s book, Escaping the Matrix, is a red pill that gives the reader an accurate description of the nightmarish reality behind recent history and suggests ways in which we could come together in a more positive, consciously chosen dream. Ruiz also advises us to become conscious of the dream(s) we’re living in, so that we can see how they work (or not) for us. He says we’ll always be living in a dream, but that, individually and collectively, we can consciously choose and create one that’s more “beautiful,” moment by moment. I’ll soon be creating pages for Moore and Ruiz, if you want to learn more – and, of course, you can always explore their work for yourself on www.escapingthematrix.org and www.miguelruiz.com.

It takes effort and conscious thought to escape our common nightmare matrix – and, since that “reality” will be pervasive as long as so many believe in it, our “escapes” have to be repeated over and over, moment by moment. At least, that’s been my experience. (The same is true for leaving the individual nightmare of your at least partially dysfunctional family and school conditioning.) It helps to remember that where you place your attention is where your energy will go. Avoiding mainstream news outlets like TV news is one of the things I do. Though I admit to watching “Survivor” – definitely not politically correct!

I’ll be writing more about all this in days to come, but for now I want to draw your attention to how the dream/matrix concept relates to the recent tenth anniversary of 9-11. This post is, in part at least, an introduction to that discussion – the subject of my next message to you. (Gotta get to it before September’s over!)

P.S. The film “The Matrix” is an example of utopian/dystopian fiction, a genre that, with its imagined visions of the future, can get us thinking creatively about how to make our present more like the future we want our kids and grandkids to inherit. I have a list of favorite utopian/dystopian novels, one of which was written by a close friend of mine, that I’ll be sharing with you in these posts and pages. Stay tuned!