Magazine article Tikkun

Movies That Seek to Inspire

Magazine article Tikkun

Movies That Seek to Inspire

Article excerpt

...are often dull and don't keep your attention. So what a pleasure to find something different in:

Sicko

THOUGH WE'VE ALWAYS been fans of Michael Moore and his political agenda, we've felt that some of his films were unlikely to have a big impact because of the way that they seemed to be cynical and put-downish of ordinary Americans, and disrespectful toward those with whose politics they disagreed.

Not so in Sicko. This is film making that is respectful, serious, engaging and so overwhelmingly smart and convincing that we feel sure it could have a huge impact if seen by a majority of Americans.

Problem is: how to get people into the theatres.

A recent conversation with two doctor who work at Kaiser and who have not seen the movie convinces us that the film opens the conversation but does not finish it. These doctors were reluctant to see it because they already agree that the system is not working well but insist that no matter what system we have, the "rising costs of health care" will make any system somewhat dysfunctional.

But prices don't come from heaven or from some unchangeable aspect of the universe. The essential reason that costs are exorbitant here and yet affordable in other countries that provide better health care at less expense than the United States is that we have to bear the cost of rewarding private enterprise corporations (drug companies, insurance companies, and profit-seeking hospitals and medical practices) and health-care personnel who have become profiteers.

"That's just human nature," we're told. "No one good would become a drug researcher or a doctor or nurse or develop medical technologies unless they were going to be rewarded at a level comparable to what the U.S. provides for them today. And that's where the high cost of medicine comes from."

The notion that human beings in our society could be motivated to do work for the common good on the basis of their ethical or spiritual commitments seems so counter-intuitive to many Americans that it is almost a non-starter.

And this is precisely why no health care program, even one backed by Michael Moore in his powerful film, will generate enough support to withstand the political assault of the medical profiteers until it is accompanied by a new understanding of human needs that includes ethical and spiritual needs. All the clever technocrats of the Left who have their various health care plans will keep on losing the battles in the Congress and the state legislatures for anything but health care that is unreasonably costly (because seeking to provide "enough" for the medical profiteers and the large corporations) until they adopt a Spiritual Progressive strategy- one that explicitly seeks to challenge the cynicism about what people "really want" in life. Unfortunately, that element is missing in Michael Moore as it is in the various campaigns for single payer health care.

So, the Network of Spiritual Progressives' approach to changing consciousness by promoting a New Bottom Line is not some idealistic vision that we can get to after we've won the needed reforms - it is the indispensable precondition for winning the fundamental changes America needs.

Praying with Lior

WE MIGHT NEVER HAVE gone to see a film about a child with Down Syndrome's Bar Mitzvah, but, because of our close relationship with and love for Lior's family, we went to the film's world premier at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. Film-maker Ilana Trachtman has created a moving and dramatic portrayal of a family that discovers that their son's Down syndrome, far from being a burden, opens him to a spiritual sensitivity that both amazes and inspires everyone who meets him. …

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