Saw the movie Adjustment Bureau and liked it a lot! It made me think about all the times I forced myself to do something or accomplish something without my heart being truly in it. Like the many sales jobs I’ve had over the years and just didn’t believe in the product. It didn’t matter how much team building I did or how many product showcase events I attended, if I didn’t care, I just couldn’t sell it!
A similar epiphany occurs to the main character of this movie, played by Matt Damon, who is on the road to a successful presidential bid when he discovers his true love, played by Emily Blunt. Also on the road to a successful future as a dancer/choreographer, she is suddenly awakened to a new side of herself. Both freaked out by what this love might mean for their futures, they find themselves moving from a semi-rewarding unconscious life to a conscious life that brings them both passion and havoc.
I went to see “Black Swan” with a friend over the holiday weekend. It was definitely as creepy as I thought it would be, yet surprisingly beautiful at the same time. A “Psychological Thriller,” maybe? A movie about the often bumpy road toward transformation, definitely!
Putting aside all the gore and psychotic, dream-like sequences, I was mostly moved by the main character’s desire to dance. This unwavering commitment to an art form that has the ability to transcend all of life’s hardships was truly something to behold. Her passion for graceful movement had a kind of life grip to it that made it easy
Last night, I saw Davis Guggenheim‘s, “Waiting for Superman” in a packed house at the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis. Going into it, I was already warned of it’s slant against teacher unions but even so, I was determined to keep an open mind. Working in the urban school system and having middle school children myself, I have to say, I was surprised at what I came away with. I think the director made some valid points but was definitely short-sighted when stressing that bad teachers and teacher unions were the entire problem. Besides, he kept referring to Finland as the the leader in education, yet they are all unionized as well.
The underlying point I came away with from this movie was something I never expected. Whether the director was conscious of it or not, I suddenly realized that our culture is completely and utterly addicted to the rush or high that comes from gambling with each others futures. Let me explain:
The American Dream is based on “making it”. Whatever this means, doesn’t really matter, what matters is how our culture seems to have internalized this message. In this movie, we have parents literally “rolling the dice” to get into the best charter schools. We have parents gambling with tuitions, not knowing if they can actually make the next payment, just hoping against the odds that things will work out. We have parents taking their vulnerable children to lottery drawings for charter schools, only to have their little faces fill up with tears when the lottery ball (much like the one used in Bingo parlors) doesn’t roll in their favor. Distressed and upset, the children that didn’t win this particular crap shoot have no idea what just happened, just that they lost to the big roulette wheel in the sky and are now forever cast as losers. Probably a feeling that will continue to motivate them further and further into the dismal world of a betting culture. This “black and white” thinking is actually extremely prevalent in our culture that continues to dangle the carrot of “what could be” if only the decks were stacked in our favor. Just look at Wall Street these days! This “black and white” thinking is also prevalent in the culture of addiction which breeds no responsibility or accountability. Of course, the biggest piece that a culture based on addiction breeds is the absolute commitment to fear. During the movie, they show the teacher’s union sitting in silence when asked to vote on a resolution that might mess with the one solid thing in their lives, a steady paycheck. The one thing every human being strives for, yet in our culture, is somehow supposed to be ashamed of. The teachers were literally stuck to their seats, immobilized with fear. Wondering why anyone would ask them to give up on a steady, realistic future. A paycheck that isn’t tied to rolling the dice on their futures or their children’s future. A paycheck that is more than just an income but a state of mind. Now, I ask you, why would anyone want to give that up? Perhaps, this is the underlying point of our education system. Perhaps, this culture that is addicted to gambling and fear could take a closer look at the first step of the Twelve Step program: We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable and start from there.
What if the education system and it’s tangled web is simply a system that is holding on for dear life in a culture that asks you to dream big, grow and prosper yet so willing to rip the carpet from under you in lieu of a “winning hand” or a lucky roll of the dice. I believe you can’t have both. You can’t expect a culture to flourish and prosper if their is no safety net or solid foundation to land upon. In fact, a culture that asks you to bet it all, all the time, is asking you to do something that goes against human nature. So maybe it’s time to look at our education system as a reflection of a much bigger problem and finally admit to ourselves that rolling the dice on dreams should no longer replace the basic human need for safety and security.