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This World Needs Some Healthy Belief and Passion. . .

July 8, 2007

Even as I write, Melissa Etheridge is belting out “I believe that we are waking up from the spell. . .” from the stage at Giants Stadium, bringing some fire and passion to what has thus far been an incredibly safe Live Earth concert event.

Thank god.

Last Friday, like so many curious and concerned American audiences I took in Michael Moore’s film Sicko. And like so many Americans I sat angered, touched, laughed some and shed even more tears. I wanted to go straight home and write a review of the film, and yet somehow it felt wrong.

I couldn’t put together the words because I had a real pain in my heart for the deeper question at the heart of Michael Moore’s film: What has happened to America’s soul? I’ll take things a step further. . . What has happened to our passion?

The very same day which saw the premiere of Sicko, thousands of people would line up across the country to be the first to get their hands on a cell phone. One enterprising woman would pay $800 dollars to be the first in line so that she could buy $100,000 worth of iPhones that day. Perhaps even more diligent was the mayor who stood in line on that same day. But nobody that day got any closer to universal health care for all Americans. Apparently on that day, our passion was for a pretty box which looks good in our clutches.

While watching the film, I couldn’t help but feel that we as Americans have become prisoners in our own minds and hearts. Consume as much as we possibly can, and accept what we are handed in life by the policy makers, taste makers and our trusted media who tell us that “socialized medicine” can’t be trusted. And once again, we’d be more comfortable killing the messenger, than we would be facing the actual problem. But most importantly, what’s good enough for Canada and France, just isn’t good enough for the Greatest Nation of Them All.

Wasn’t there a time when Americans rose to a challenge? John F. Kennedy swore that we would be the first people to walk on the moon. American soul and ingenuity took us to the moon folks, but could it ever ensure that no American’s health will ever again be left behind? I believe a united America could do it if they set their minds and hearts to it.

And now we as humans face an even greater challenge, one that we Americans can’t wall off our country to hide from its effects, nor can we blame it on some outside specter. Will we choose to contribute our sense of ingenuity and passion to keep Global Warming from consuming our planet? I can promise you that the same great minds and deep pockets that re-enforce the idea that “Socialized medicine can’t work for America” are the same ones that will peddle the message that “Global warming isn’t real, nor is it something that we can do anything about.”

So where do our passions and beliefs lie? We’re told that we as Americans have become a “Nation Divided”. . . Red states and blue states. Us and them. Our passions reinforce that belief and we spew our energy into the fires that separate us. We choose to believe that those people over there “don’t love anyone but themselves”, while those people over there “hate their country”. And worst of all, people in far off and unvisited lands “hate us.”

We’re also told that the travails of a privileged socialite and her days spent doing “hard time” are more newsworthy than the state of American health care. After all, the news tells us so.

And of course, the promise of the next shiny toy to come along will provide us with happiness, fulfillment and deep contentment. At least until we need to replace it with the next consumer soul-panacea-in-a-box.

But maybe that’s the underlying message to all of this. Perhaps our focus should be placed on those things which are truly irreplaceable. Our health. Our planet. Our hearts and souls? But can we actually rise above the shiny things that the media, taste makers and policy makers will wag in front of our faces? Will we be able to pull the fuel of our passions from the burning fires of hating one other? Those boxes marked “us and them”? There is no box, and it’s only going to be us that will eventually save or damn us all.

There are going to be those that will arrive at the end of my little musing who will answer a passionate no. “Of course not!”. . . “Things are too far gone”. . . “I can’t possibly make a difference”. . . And that is your belief. Your chosen passion contributes to the noise which continues to deafen us all.

So can we find the passion to listen to each other? Can we find belief in ourselves? In each other? Live Earth kept sounding the call to “Save Our Selves”, but it seems to me we spend inordinate amounts of time and energy caring for ourselves, and it’s a significant reason why we face the problems that we do. Can we find the passion to fuel the fires of change for all or will we wait for someone else to take up humanity’s cause?

I believe we can and I am passionate about finding new and revolutionary ways of stirring up hearts, minds and souls. . . Ways of getting people to listen to one another, care about one another, and give a damn about what happens next.

Do you believe? Where does your passion lie?

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