Movies to save the world

HeartChurches, so far as I know, merely increase our risks by emphasizing guilt and adversarial relationships. The real solution, in my opinion, is the movie.

Today I watched Love Actually again. Hugh Grant narrates in the introduction that love, actually, is all around us.

At my house we own hundreds of films on DVD. We are drawn to movies that carry a message of hope, optimism, generosity, and kindness. The opening scene of Love Actually features people arriving at airports, and receiving and giving hugs, while wearing enormous smiles.

We would do well to honor movies for their messages of hope, patience, and optimism. Another favorite of mine is It’s A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Does it get any better than that? And consider Field of Dreams. It’s totally about feeling connected and valued.

And A League of Their Own? Amazing. Inclusive. Sweet.

My suggestion is give up on messages from an angry past and embrace the delicious sweetness that comes to us today. Blessings on Michael J. Fox in Doc Hollywood.

On the state of pornography


I would be pleased if more people would speak up. We need that. Silence is not golden, in the context of saving the world.

I started watching pornography when it required going to a movie house and sitting in plain view of others. We sat as far from other people as we could.

Now it is is available on the Internet. And for free.

What has the porn industry innovated during this period of 40 years? They now consider incest an appropriate theme. They present step moms having sex with their sons. Brandi Love tells her stepson, “Your father doesn’t need to know about this.”

Pornography offers us a potent classroom for examining the state of our values, assuming that we have some.

There are other industries equally void of creativity and innovation. I think the value of examining and discussing pornography is that we can avoid the politics of talking about, well, politics. Nobody is going to defend porn on the grounds of some alleged virtue. It has no virtues that I know of, so we can use it as a case study without stirring up conflicts. At least, I hope so. I see the Republican party as an expression of pornography, but that’s just me. Companies that profit from fossil fuels seem pornographic to me. Just an opinion. Universities that create decades of debt for their graduates seem to me to be pornographers. Just saying.

The defining character of pornography, in my opinion, is that it allows us to express lust without any sense of responsibility for it. Our culture, generally speaking, mistrusts responsibility and welcomes lust. We would do well, in my opinion, to talk about that.

Your thoughts?

Meet Cory Booker

Old GloryThere is an old joke that says you can always tell a Yale man, but you can’t tell him much.

Cory Booker, junior senator from New Jersey, is a different sort of Yale man. He is modest, gracious, and a good listener. He smiles a lot, and appreciates humor. He is also a lawyer.

This article in The New York Times is informative. There is also a lot of good content on YouTube. This link takes you to a conversation he had with Bill Maher.

Famous for engaging his constituents and others on Twitter, Mr. Booker, a Democrat, has vowed to meet with all of his Republican colleagues in the Senate. His best-selling book, “United,” about finding common ground in a divided world, was published last month.—The New York Times

I like many things about him starting with his emphasis on the need for human kindness. He also emphasizes seeing things whole rather than obsessing on separate pieces of the puzzle.

If you are not familiar with him and his work, a treat awaits you.

Why we choose failure

Rosie the Riveter

Or maybe we can’t any more.

If you think civilization as we know it is a success this post is not for you.

Our attempts at civilization are a massive failure, and we are collectively committed to continuing that failure. We will have poverty, war, racial antagonism, and various injustices based on a variety of sexual issues for a very long time. This is a lifetime interest of mine. I even studied it in college.

My long study has been devoted to understanding why we collectively prefer failure to success. It is tied to our desire to be scolded. We were taught that scolding is good for us. We have an enormous prison population due to our attraction to scolding people.

According to a 2014 Human Rights Watch report, “tough-on-crime” laws adopted since the 1980s, have filled U.S. prisons with mostly nonviolent offenders.[14] This policy failed to rehabilitate prisoners and many were worse on release than before incarceration. Rehabilitation programs for offenders can be more cost effective than prison.—Wikipedia

Being in charge seems to be the American dream, no matter the cost.

One of the most popular TED Talks features Dan Pink answering this question. When you go to TED scroll down for the link to his video. The title is The Puzzle of Motivation. It’s a subject we poorly understand.

He is not the first, and explaining our preference for failure has been done brilliantly many, many times. The reason so few people care is that they do not want to succeed, and guidance is simply more clutter in an already disturbing world.

Dan Pink provides a recipe for success. It can be expressed in three words: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

Let’s look at autonomy. We are taught that we need a boss. For some people their deepest desire is to be a boss. Bosses inhibit progress and success. They want to demonstrate their power to limit our contributions and expressions of value. As a culture we support their desire.

When he uses the word mastery he means being really good at something. We are confined in a world that wants us to be really good at obedience, not the thing that calls to us, that stirs our imagination.

His third concept is purpose. We are told to ignore our authentic purpose, and to be obedient and typical. That cancels the real passion that moves us to be genuine.

Mr. Pink calls this a lazy, dangerous ideology.

The reason we prefer failure to success is that it creates the appearance that we are acceptable and worthy. Approval, and the desire to be considered average and typical, runs our lives.

We celebrate rock stars and movie stars as a vicarious experience, a fantasy of who we might have been, should we have chosen to be real and reckless.

Your thoughts?

Movies: some golden oldies

Great films are a body of literature and wisdom, as far as I am concerned. I use the word “great” to mean the film delivers lessons about the human experience that we can use in this crazy, mixed up world of ours. These films affirm kindness, self-respect, and courage.

In this post and my next one I offer you a list of some of our favorite films at our house. We have seen them many times, and will continue to do so. I watched Sirens yesterday. Gene Siskel, according to Roger Ebert, watched Saturday Night Fever at least 17 times. That’s my point. So, let’s get started.

The oldest film on my list is Casablanca, made in 1942 in gorgeous black and white. Humphrey Bogart is at his best. He tells the piano player, “Play it, Sam. You played it for her, you can play it for me.” A classic line that is often misquoted as play it again, Sam.

Jimmy Stewart starred in It’s a Wonderful Life in 1946. After a series of setbacks he announces that he wishes he had never been born. His guardian angel shows him what the world would look like if he got his wish. We would do ourselves a favor by watching that movie again. It is about honoring our own contributions.

Another Bogart film that fits this list is African Queen, made in 1951. He plays a low-life loser who discovers his own value and worth while helping Katherine Hepburn’s character flee from the Germans in the time leading up to WWI. They are traveling in a rickety boat across water that harbors leeches. We need this film now more than ever.

We’re No Angels is from 1955. It is the third Bogart film in this post. Three prisoners escape and make their way to a retail shop owned by the kindly Leo. G. Carroll. People my age might remember him from the television show, Topper. The inmates take up residence, and their basic kindness begins to show itself in a delightful way. The film is totally charming. At the end, they return voluntarily to prison. “Prison wasn’t so bad,” they say.

Saturday Night Fever came out in 1977 with John Travolta in the classic white suit and the pose he made famous. In addition to being a whole lot of fun, it reminds us to respect ourselves regardless of our outer circumstances. No wonder Siskel watched it so many times.

In 1980 The Blues Brothers showed us how to throw caution to the wind. They do this because they are “on a mission from God.” Jake Blues, played by John Belushi, wants to get their old band together for a fundraising event to help The Penguin pay back taxes. The Penguin is their favorite nun. It’s a sweet and ambitious story.

Groundhog Day, 1993, shows Bill Murray’s character caught in a time warp. He does not know it, but the only way to escape is to learn kindness and appreciation. I know that time warp well. I am still learning to be kind. He relives the scene where spectators wait to see if the groundhog will cast a shadow, and he does it time after time. The final scene depicts him showing his humanity. This is another great lesson for our times.

These films are all about evolving as human beings and as members of a community.

I will add to the list in my next post. I also invite readers to share your thoughts on any of these films.





Things I’ve tried that didn’t work

DanI think admitting our mistakes and failures is an exercise that can help other people. Especially if we make our confessions visible by putting them into a blog that is available around the world.

Visibility does not mean the confession will be read, and if it is read, it does not assure that it will be convincing in any way. But damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

The failure that beats on my brain with the most fury is that my praise for advice and wisdom has influenced very few people, and not in a way that I can really recognize. I’ve been a Peter Drucker fan for half a century, and I cannot point to any virtuous results of that dedication.

Since Mr. Drucker began writing the field of management guidance has grown very rich and productive. I have added nothing to that.

I even went to college for validation of my ability to distingush good counsel from the rest. My professors were wonderful people. I’m sorry I do not bring them more credit through my efforts.

My first marriage was pretty much a failure, but my wife’s boobs were cute. There is something to be said for that. She does not permit me to share photographs of them, or I would show you. My photographs are quite old by now.

I have some 400 “followers” of record on this blog, but it generates no comments. I consider this blog a failure apart from its role as my daily journal. I am open to suggestion on this.

I often challenge superstition, but with little result. Our preoccupation with skin color is based on superstition. I think most religious stances are based on superstition too. Few people recant.

superstition: any belief or attitude that is inconsistent with the known laws of science or with what is generally considered in the particular society as true and rational; especially a belief in charms, omens, the supernatural, etc.—Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary

I have been a photographer since I was about seven years old. A man I respect, an accomplished photographer, told me not long ago that my photography sucks. That is the word he used. I admit I took offense.  I don’t recommend taking offense, but I did. I have to create some space for the possibility that I have failed in my efforts.

I would like to exert more control over my obsessions. I have several of them, mostly related to my admiration for the female form. My wife and I often attend performances by Black Cherry Burlesque. I am enamored of their pasties and tassels, some of which conceal nipples, and some of which are attached to derrieres that shimmy in the most wonderful way. It’s all fun for me.

My current intention is to embrace my apparent failures. They may contain life lessons that my intended “good intentions” do not.

Any thoughts on this?

My favorite post


The delightful Enakai

I am approaching 700 posts on this blog. How to Move is on my short list of all-time favorites. I invite you to check it out. I made a couple of additions since I first published it.

The world is desperate for originality, friendship, and courage. These dance scenes nourish us in the pursuit of those things. And they are so very charming.