A small group of us in our little rural Vermont town was interested in getting together to watch Michael Moore’s latest film, “Where to Invade Next?”. Someone with a large living room was willing to host the viewing and the evening wound up being entertaining and affirming.
We were all what you might call Progressives or progressive-leaning. We weren’t really interested in defending Moore’s reasons for making the film but to celebrate his humor and his moxie. In the film he visits other countries, bringing an American flag along, claiming their social and political achievements for the United States. Each one of the countries he visits has succeeded in implementing the ideals, the freedoms and rights of the American Constitution, whereas the United Sates has failed to deliver on the promise of enlightened government articulated by its own founding fathers, such as the right of health, education and equal justice for all
We had such a good time and it felt so good to agree on what we found funny and affirming that we decided to share another film and maybe even make a habit of it.
Then we had the idea of meeting at the community library which would be able to accommodate more people than a private residence. The librarian was open to the idea but with certain expectations. In other words she was mostly keen on the idea of sponsoring a thought-provoking film as long as everyone’s opinion was respected and there was a “free exchange of ideas” and nobody was hurt or offended. She would want to avoid any “stridently political” face-off and unpleasantness. This sounded right to me until I started picturing the kind of evening I was hoping for and then the librarian’s conditions began to feel too limiting.
I totally understand where our librarian was coming from, only this is a group that is sort of fed up with business as usual in the political culture and climate of the USA, as regards gender, race, climate change, war, poverty (class division) etc. So we are all pretty much on the same page as far as all that. In general we are not happy with the way this greatest democracy on Earth is conducting itself, which is what makes it possible to watch films that either spoof our system or are downright critical of it, without having to worry about offending someone who is knee-jerk patriotic and categorically disagrees.
When you all agree on basic points, then no one is going to say you have an agenda. It’s only when someone thinks you’re full of shit that they might accuse you of having an agenda. Take the Republican VS the Democratic platform on climate change. Each party might legitimately accuse the other of pushing an agenda but I take the attitude that if you don’t believe in climate change you are just plain nuts! And I really don’t need to have that debate with anyone. I am not trying to get people to accept something that was obvious to me way before Al Gore went viral with his Inconvenient Truth. I’m not into changing anyone’s mind, I’m only interested in talking about how critical things have gotten with like-minded people and discussing where do we go from here. As far as I’m concerned people who are mean to immigrants and into building walls (the social or metal and concrete variety) and people who aren’t worried about global environmental degradation and people who don’t see the need to rein in the greed of corporations and people who support endless war are like the loyalists during the time leading up to the American Revolution. I really don’t have much time for them.
I told the librarian that I sincerely hope that my point of view isn’t a turn-off as far as pursuing the idea of showing films at the library. Maybe she will agree that there is nothing unreasonable about birds of a feather watching movies together.