I’m watching Michael Moore’s documentary, Where to Invade Next. Imagine me sitting on my couch with a forlorn look.
My face is long. Lips frowning. Eyes sad.
Michael visits Germany, France, Slovenia, Finland, Portugal and Italy. In one place after the other, he speaks with natives of the land and their narratives unfold in truths + stories of their lives that leave me feeling a gaping whole in my heart.
A sadness at what we’re missing here. Wishes that the future will be full of different circumstances for my darling daughter.
He starts with Italy and here’s what we discover: They have weeks and weeks of paid vacation that roll over if unused. Women receive five months paid leave when they’ve had a child.
I sit, holding my baby girl. I look upon her face and wonder of her future.
He visits Finland, known for their great education, and I start to feel sick. No homework the teachers say. Children are meant to play.
France: delicious foods served to school children. The menu decided upon in monthly meetings with the Mayor, who cares of what the children eat. Fresh fish. Sauteed vegetables. Flan for dessert. Michael shows the chef a picture of American lunch food. The chef replies: “That’s not food.”
One place after the next and I’m hit with the knowing that this country is young. And like a young child, it is immature and sometimes takes actions irresponsibly, impulsively, without thinking of the consequences.
The result is a country full of people without adequate health care, who have to worry about whether or not they’ll be cared for when they’re old. Children who are not allowed to revel in music or art, but instead forced to sit and fill out multiple choice tests.
We have mothers with no paid leave. Fathers who work too hard, and too long, and miss precious years of their children’s lives.
We have students riddled with massive debt, feeling enslaved for years.
Enslaved…yes, that reminds me…
He visits Portugal. They have decriminalized all drugs. You’re not put in prison if you choose to alter your own consciousness. They have lower crime rates now. Fewer problems.
In prisons all over Europe, they’re not sentenced for more than 21 years. And if they are, they’re rehabilitated, given opportunities to cook, make art, heal. They have private bathrooms in their prison rooms, which are nice, clean and have flat-screen televisions. Yes, even the murderers are treated with dignity.
Over and over the theme is that of the dignity of man. That we owe it to each other, to our friends, family and neighbors, to care for each other and ensure a good quality of life.
I see people going to work, receiving great pay, lots of vacation time, wonderful benefits. They go home for their hour-long lunch break every day and break bread with their family.
I see families who don’t have the same stresses that we have here. They’re not buried under piles of debt, stressed to find adequate healthcare, forced to choose between money, feeding their families, or seeing their families. Bombarded with messages of fear and terror in the media, and forced to choose between, as Ani DiFranco described so well, in her song Fuel, Tweetledumb or Tweetledumber.
And I imagine a world where my daughter will have freedom to play and enjoy her childhood. I see her eating well and knowing how to share a meal with loved ones, how to cook, and the value of health.
I see her having education available for free, where she doesn’t know the feeling of heaviness on her shoulders from debt for pursuing her dreams.
I see safe neighborhoods where she knows the families next door and they share in the celebrations of life. I see her having plenty, and one day having a family of her own, and having space and time to nurture her soul and enjoy her life with those she loves.
With corrupt political systems, and police brutality, white supremacy, and the largest incarceration rate in the world, and the lack of healthcare and too many people with debt, it seems to me that America has some serious growing up to do.
In the end of the movie, a woman in Iceland is asked by Michael if she would like to live in America. She says that we couldn’t pay her to live here because we only care about ourselves, and not our neighbors. In another final message, officers in Portugal tell Michael that they have but one message for Americans:
We hope you’ll get rid of the death penalty. All humans deserve a sense of dignity. You can’t honor the dignity of your fellow humans if you think you have the right to kill them.
Though I was disheartened to see the realities presented in this film, I was also inspired. Inspired that we, too, one day, can rise up and choose to create a world that works for everyone. It starts here and now in our own lives and homes with standing up for our own dignity and that of those we love.
I hope you’ll watch this movie by Michael Moore and open yourself up to what’s possible. Together, you and I, we can change the world, but only if we’re willing to see the truth, to honor what’s real and to take courageous action to create what we know is better.
You see, that’s why I teach and live my life as a psychic. There’s nothing more potent than being open to see. With awareness comes choice, and therein lies our power.
All my love,
Human dignity is above all.