I’m a writer. Not the best, not the worst. I always wanted to have the influence of a Thomas Paine, a Harriet Beecher Stowe, or maybe a George Orwell or an Ayn Rand. I wanted to “leave my mark” and somehow make the world a better place. Alas, I am a gray-haired retiree in small town Oklahoma. I wrote a novel three years ago that has helped a few people, or so they have told me. The second book, a follow-up, is still under construction. I didn’t realize it would be such a struggle. But I have a lot to say; a message bigger than one book can contain.
I may be writing this because of the death of several of my writer friends in recent months. My heart ached because they left unfinished manuscripts. And, recently my own health has faced a few challenges. So, as I lay my anemic self on my sofa I feel like I am circling the drain. I have been contemplating my life and the “marks” I have made. My personal review has left me feeling wanting---even though I've achieved a couple of things.
I found myself offering up a prayer---to God, the Universe, to whatever Higher Power is out there—I know there is one, I’ve had so many prayers answered—"Show me how I can make a positive difference in the world before I am out of here.”
Well stocked with Sonic ice and air-popped popcorn, I snuggled deeper on the sofa in a marathon switch-off between Candy Crush and Netflix. I also made the decision not to take one of my prescribed “medications for life” that I suspected might be contributing to my demise.
I plugged my tablet in to recharge and turned on Netflix. I needed to watch something, anything, that didn’t seem like a waste. I needed something to challenge my thinking; something to distract me from my exhaustion and pain. Something to motivate me to get off my ass and back to writing.
Over the course of two days these movies and documentaries changed my perspective of the world. Some made me laugh, others made me angry, but together they gave me renewed hope. I wondered if these films would have the same impact on others. There was only one way to find out: I could write about it and offer my discovery to the world and see if others would feel the birth of hope that I do. That would be an answer to my prayer and a real miracle.
(Note: Netflix offers one month free to new subscribers. I receive no compensation from Netflix. If, on the other hand, this article goes viral and results in a massive unexplained new member sign-up and they track me down and they would like to bless me with compensation, I would not turn it down. You might want to search these shows in advance and put them on your Watch List.)
I did take some breaks. Friends and family dropped by, I had to go to the bathroom, answer the phone, let the dogs out, re-supply ice and popcorn. I also did some tidying-up around the house. I didn’t want my family to find me dead in a messy house.
I will do my best to list these films in the order I watched them, but other than the first show, I’m not sure it really matters.
1. Requiem for the American Dream (1 hr. 13 min) If you don’t know who Noam Chomsky is, think brilliant college professor. A linguist, writer, and anti-war dissident of the 1960’s and 1970’s. He appeals to logical thinkers and will have conspiracy theorists nodding their heads with approval.
2. The Big Short (2 hr 10 min) Academy Award Nominee. Makes a boring subject (to many), big banking, interesting. And politicians complain about the government (taxpayers) footing the cost for food stamp recipients?
3. PlantPure Nation (1hr 35 min) One of those, “We’re going to tell you this for your own good” documentaries. However, this one has actual video footage showing how state government (in this case Kentucky) can hijack information the general public needs to know. After watching PlantPure, I re-watched the Noam Chomsky film to make sure I wasn’t dreaming about what his documentary explained. There is info at the end of the movie if you want more information.
4. The Widowmaker (1 hr 36 min) This film may have saved my life. I watched this prior to my marathon session. I put it on this list because it needs to be seen by EVERY adult in the U.S. who feels like crap as well as those who don't. My family doctor pooh-poohed the info it gives. I paid $99 cash for the medical test (not covered by Medicare without doctor’s order) suggested in this film. Based on the results, a cardiologist who was going to place a stent in one of my legs decided we needed to address the blockages in my heart first. After the stents were placed in my heart and aorta I could walk more than one-hundred feet without pain for the first time in five years. (I can walk over a mile now and the pounds I gained due to immobility are melting like an ice cube on a summer day in Oklahoma.)
5. The Great Invisible (1 hr 32 min) I already said I live in Oklahoma, land of cattle and big oil. This film provides information about the BP oil spill not shared in mainstream news reports. Big oil is big oil.
6. GMO OMG (1 hr 30 min) I had no idea. Well, maybe a little. But this? Why? On my list of send an email to my senator and representative.
7. Rolling Papers (1 hr 19 min) The Denver Post became the first major media outlet to appoint a marijuana editor. This film covers the challenges of the emerging cannabis industry and addresses national political impacts. In my youth I was an outraged young Republican secretly envious of the hippie life-style. Burning my bra seemed like it would be so liberating, but I decided that without the padding my gender might be questioned. And as far as cannabis is concerned, the only regret I have is that Oklahoma isn’t as progressive as Colorado. Maybe I would feel better if I took a vacation.
8. Dirty Wars (1 hr 27 min) I almost didn’t watch this one. See, ignorance can be bliss. But low on my Google newsfeed this last week was a blip of an article about NATO extending support for the Afghanistan war through 2020. Investigative reporter, Jeremy Scahill, discloses where the borders end. Really? Time for another group of emails. I might have to walk. How far IS Washington? How many billion is the U.S. kicking in? And they want to cut Social Security?
9. Gore Vidal -- The United States of Amnesia (l hr 23 min) My parents used to love his debates with William F. Buckley. My parents were close to my age when they died. I now understand why they liked the guy. Heavens, he knew the inside scoop on D.C. and must have been considered outrageous in his time. This led me to watch Requiem of the American Dream a third time. And then in quick succession—
10. Money for Nothing: A Look Inside the Federal Reserve (1 hr 44 min) I listened to these people and thought of Sigmund Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays. There’s a name to look up on Wikipedia.
11. Cartel Land (1 hr 40 min) I am thankful I don’t live in a border state.
12. Wal-Mart The High Cost of the Low Price (1hr 37 min.) If you have missed this one, now is the time to watch it.
As I close this article, I want to thank a friend for bringing me prenatal vitamins (they contain some iron). Between those and stopping my “for the rest of your life” medicine, I feel much better today. My doctor’s office called saying they phoned a different prescription in to the local Wal-Mart Pharmacy. I ask them to transfer all my prescriptions to my neighborhood drugstore. (The WalMart brand glucose test strips an monitors are still the cheapest to be had in the U.S. If everyone with diabetes that is on Medicare used them it would save the government millions a month. And since we are the ones footing the bill, it would be the logical thing to do.)
I'd love to receive feedback, to learn if after you watch these films you have a renewed sense of hope. Grassroots activism in this day and age is at the tip of your fingers via a phone call, or email. If that doesn’t work there is always the voting booth, or we could all join together and go for a walk.