Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Divided States of America

We are a nation divided. Split– along racial lines, gender lines, class lines, sexual orientation lines, political party affiliation lines, generational lines and moral lines. In the closely contested presidential race of 2012, regardless of who won, we knew there were going to be bitter, angry people on the other side. And now that the election is over, it is time for us to move forward as a nation unless we want to perish as a nation. We are fractured. We are broken. But we are not beyond healing. For us to move forward we must stand in the shoes of those we oppose. 

We must push past what we believe to be true, to understand there is not only one Truth, but many Truths. Though America is the land of many opportunities it is not the land of equal opportunity. The perks of privilege do pay, and give some of us a hand up. And though it may be difficult for some to get ahead, it is not impossible. We must understand that the fruition of dreams can happen to the least of us if it’s what we really want and are willing to work to get it.

We must understand that issues are not stark lines of black or white, but muddied shades of grey. Who are we to impose our beliefs and values on others? Is there a way for us to get along even when we don’t agree? We need to recognize that differences make us unlike, not better or worse. We need to understand that beneath those differences we still share basic human needs. We need to work, to have health insurance, to get an education and to enjoy our lives. 

We are not White Vs People of Color, Men Vs. Women, Rich Vs the Middle Class Vs the Poor, Straight Vs Gay, Democrats Vs. Republicans, Elders Vs Youth and any other superficial lines of division. We are the sum of our parts – not the parts. We must understand that no group is going to get everything that they want. We must compromise. We are split, and that which is split eventually breaks into. Is that what we want?
The next four years are going to require the work of all us to begin to repair the damage done over the years. America is changing. What will you do to gain a better understanding of those you think are different from you? The Divided States of America needs to truly become the United States of America. What are you going to do in your corner of the world to make that happen?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

middle of no where

I, (Bride/Groom), take you (Groom/Bride), to be my (wife/husband), to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part.

For better or worse.. .That is what husband and wives pledge to each other when they take their vows. But how many of them actually think about and prepare for the worst? In writer, director’s Ava DuVernay’s film, middle of no where, it is the worse part of the marriage vows that Ruby finds herself facing.

When we meet Ruby, she is on the way to visit her husband who is incarcerated for the possession and sale of guns and is doing an 8 year bid. Ruby, a nurse, who has dreams of medical school puts her dream on hold to be the dutiful wife. It would be too hard to be in medical school and still visit Derek on the weekends and she doesn’t want to not be able to take his calls she rationalizes much to the dismay of both her mother and her sister.

Derek tries to get Ruby to go on with her life, but she refuses. She tells him that she’ll be there for him. Ruby keeps abreast of everything that’s happening with Derek. She reads through his file. She stays in contact with the attorney. She visits him every weekend and waits patiently by the phone for his calls. They can do this, she tells him. She has high hopes for an early release date.

But when she shows up at his hearing, new information sends her into a tailspin and she lands in the arms of, Brian,  a bus driver on whose route she rides every day. Ruby reluctantly agrees to go out with Brian, but she doesn’t tell him the whole story behind the wedding ring on her finger. She only says that she and her husband are separated.

Like Ruby, Brian is also wounded. He is separated from his wife, and doesn’t see any signs of reconciliation. So, he pursues not knowing her circumstances. Ruby struggles to make sense of life, but she stumbles to find her Truth—whatever it might be. She can’t seem to escape her past, and she has no idea what the future holds and she finds herself frozen with no idea how to break free of a life that’s holding her hostage.

This taut, slowly dripping across the screen like molasses film,  deals with the nuances of everyday life. It’s not about good guys and bad guys or even happy endings.  It is a film of culpability and vulnerability. It is about the messiness of life; and that in the midst of that messiness, life marches on.