Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mental Fleece Blankets

My mom and I have very interesting conversations. They're usually sparked by something that doesn't have much to do with anything but a few weeks ago we had a fairly serious conversation after we finished watching Bowling for Columbine*.

In it Michael Moore asks a lot of questions about our violence toting culture and at one point contrasted it with Canada. Canada has 40 million people, the US has 400 million. Canada has 10 million households with about 7 million guns. The US has about 40 million households with about 28 million guns. So the gun to person ratio in both countries is about the same. In 2001 over 15,000 people were killed in the US by violent assault with a weapon, Canada had 7. Seven. Nation wide - Seven. That happens in a day in LA.

So Mr. Moore begged the question why? Why does no one shoot each other in Canada when we have 1st graders shooting other 1st graders here? Why does no one lock their doors in Canada even? Like people who had previously been broken into still didn't lock their doors and that mystified him. When he was in the local bar he formed a theory as to why that I agree with. He was watching the news and it was all positive. No "Murder in the Mall" or "Hostage Alerts!" The people weren't being pumped full of fear every night about their neighbors.

That stupefied me. They weren't being taught how to fear each other at all, but more how to relate to one another. Mr. Moore goes on to talk about the culture of fear we have churning here in the US and that got me thinking and I'm drafting a post specifically on that as we speak so I'll get to that later but today I wanted to talk about something else.

This little quip of Mr. Moore's helped me make a resolve. I wasn't going to be taught to fear anymore and I was going to start unlearning all of this by surrounding myself with positive news. So I was watching 60 minutes and this story came on and it filled me with joy. THIS is what things should be about. Can you imagine if there were more Gustavos in the world?

And what a story!! From the middle of impoverished Venezuela comes this musical genius that used music, simple music, as a refuge from fear. There was no fear in music, just therapy and a way to assert yourself and contribute constructively. And what a GENIUS that set up El Sestema. Whoever they are, the world owes them a massive "Thank You!". When Gustavo said that he has plans to implement similar programs here in LA I almost started crying with happiness. If I'm not in rural Peru working with the Peace Corps next year I am buying Phil Harmonic season tickets just to be in the same room with that kind of person of passion and excellence. What a gift. What a reason to hope instead of fear, and what a marvelous soundtrack to go with that kind of change. I get warm and fuzzy inside every time I think about it.

*disclaimer- I think Michael Moore is a slightly more talented and ballsy version of Jerry Springer. He makes relevant movies composed of a majority of valid points and they get people talking, which I'm grateful for. But on the whole I find his sensationalistic approaches insensitive, disturbing, and just a hair shy of invasive. I suppose that's what the majority of people need to actually feel something about something now-a-days but as the sensitive type, when I finish watching any of his films I feel like I went out to run through the sprinklers and come back red, bruised, and traumatized because they were all really fire hydrants.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

There was a NYTimes piece on him a few months back and I can't wait to see him in action. I hope he still has all that hair.

And I agree COMPLETELY with your disclaimer on Michale Moore. Relevant but boorish.