Wednesday, October 26, 2011

58: The Film

Started: Thursday, October 13

Can you do me a favor? Can you stop what you're doing for just a moment? Can you close that chat window, and turn off the music? Can you turn your cell phone's ringer off, and move it 10 feet away from you, or put it in a drawer at your desk? Can you give me 15 minutes of your time?

It's not that what I have to say is important - it isn't. However, what I have to share is important. Do me a favor - if you can't create a space to think right now, can you come back to this blog post later when you can give 15 minutes? And promise me you'll come back? Leave yourself a post-it note or leave yourself a voicemail or do something to remind yourself to come back here. I really need you to hear this.

I just got home from viewing "58: The Film." Many things have challenged me throughout my life to be a voice for the poor, to help the cause of justice, to share the resources I have; however, tonight I feel even more moved.

I struggle to put words to what I'm feeling. This is not common for me - usually I have words for everything. I struggle with how to convey to you what is in my heart now, and wanting you desperately - desperately - to feel this with me.

In this moment I feel awake again. I feel I have shaken off the grogginess of consumerism, materialism, greed, and comfort, and I can see the world clearly for what it is. The world needs my help - our help - to provide a decent standard of living to all of the people who inhabit it.

Jesus didn't preach to us to build up nice houses for ourselves, to stay in style with the latest fall trends, or to pack our retirement accounts. Jesus' message was continually to care for the poor, to love and serve others. How did we become so off the mark as a society? How did we believe that comfort and moving up in the world were what life was all about?

The movie "58" told the stories of people in countries around the world and the poverty struggles they face. I saw a woman in Ethiopia, the mother of 4 children with another on the way, who could not feed her family daily. Her children cried out in hunger, but she had nothing to give them. Each day she and her eldest daughter (age 11) would venture out of their rural village and search for dry wood to sell in town. Each day they had to walk farther away because they had collected the wood nearest the village. Their part of Ethiopia hadn't seen a good rain in 5 years. They sold the wood in town, which provided them with just enough money for a little food and water for that day. They had no security for the future.

I saw a family in India who had to move into the city after they could no longer support themselves in country. They came looking for work, and found employment in a quarry. I don't fully understand, but when a worker begins at the quarry, they must take out a loan. I suspect this may be for the tools. However, there is interest on the loan, and the worker makes only 30 or 40 CENTS a day. If the worker is sick, their family member must work for them, or there will be money added to their loan against them. Typically, the worker will not be able to pay off the loan in their lifetime, so their children will have to continue to work in the quarry to pay off the debt of their family. Those children also won't be able to work it off in their lifetime, so the bonded labor continues. In this particular case, about $600 would have paid off this man's loan. That's about what I spend in groceries and gas each month.

One of the most troubling scenes from the India segment was a casual interview with the children in this family. The camera was rolling and they were asked if they could have anything, what would it be. A young child quickly said "Sweets!" which got the rest of the siblings laughing. The eldest child thought for a while and said, "I wish everybody could be happy." He then thought some more and said, "I have dreams for the future, but I know those dreams will never come true. I wish that I couldn't dream."

It was then that I heard the sound of my own heart breaking.

It hurts me to think that a child would be in such a despairing state as to wish to not dream. Childhood should be full of play, learning, provision, security, and hope.

Toward the end of the movie, I noticed a woman in the theater a few rows in front of me. She had a small baby with her, maybe 6 months old. The baby was getting antsy, and the mother was holding her up in the air. The baby's silhouette was black against the screen where images of intense poverty flashed. I thought to myself that that little girl will never know the kind of life on the screen. Her life is markedly different than those of the people on the screen because she was born to a family in the U.S.

My mind is flooded with the silly things we spend our time and money on here in the U.S. Faced with the people and situations I saw tonight, what really matters? On the radio today I heard of a "Pumpkin Drive" where people could donate pumpkins to kids who wouldn't otherwise get one. Really? We're having a pumpkin drive? I can think of a lot more important things kids here in the U.S. and the world need than pumpkins.

As our culture prepares for Halloween, I walk through the store and see a plethora of Halloween decor. How much money do we as a nation spend each year just on Halloween costumes? It seems so silly in light of what I saw tonight.

And let's not forget about the big holiday coming right after Halloween - Christmas. One of the biggest reasons to shop all year. I feel cheap and shallow thinking about Christmas gifts. How can I make a Christmas list when I have a pantry full of food, a closet full of clothes, and a beautiful, warm home to call my own? What do I need? In light of this movie, what do I even really want that can be purchased at a store? What I really want this year is for every mother to be able to feed her children. I want every child to have the opportunity to dream. I want every person across the globe to have hope.

These are the top things on my Christmas list this year.

Update: 10/26 - I just found out that you can download 58: The Film for FREE. It will be a life-changing 1 hour, 14 minutes. I promise. Please download this video and watch it - and watch the whole thing. Cinematography is a form of art, and a work of art is meant to be viewed in its entirety. Spend time watching the whole movie; it comes together beautifully as a cohesive piece.

Go here to download the movie. Don't be surprised - it will ask you to make an account to download the movie, but I assure you, it is free. Choose the free option. If you have questions, call me or email me or Facebook me. I'd be happy to help you get access to this film.

Further resources:
Article about bonded labor in Indian quarries
Website for 58: The Film
Video on Christmas Consumerism

1 comment:

  1. Well said Amber. I can relate to the feelings of shaking off grogigness of consumerism only to fall back into it. I have been reading "The Whole in Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns and it has been similarly impacting me. I for sure will download this movie. Thanks for sharing! Let me know if you come up with practical, everyday things to continually combat materialism/consumerism.