Always Well Within

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Is It Time to Create a Culture of Care?

What if love, compassion + care ruled society? With examples.

Did you know, in some countries:

  • Prison cells aren’t locked, there’s very little if any prison violence, and homicide rates have declined (Norway)?
  • There are no drug crimes and correspondingly less drug use (Portugal)?
  • Employees are given almost 2 months paid vacation and holidays per year as well as 5 months of paid maternity leave when needed (Italy)?

These represent some of the positive ideas that Michael Moore suggests importing to America in his recent movie, “Where To Invade Next.”  The title misleads as this exploration only “invades” in a whimsical way to “steal” methods aligned with love, care, and respect for human dignity.

I love the way Godfrey Cheshire described this film at RogerEbert.com:

Michael Moore’s surprising and extraordinarily winning ‘Where to Invade Next’ will almost surely cast his detractors at Fox News and similar sinkholes into consternation. They get lots of mileage out of painting Moore as a far-left provocateur who’s all about ‘running America down.’ But his new film is all about building America up, in some amazingly novel and thought-provoking ways. In my view, it’s one of the most genuinely, and valuably, patriotic films any American has ever made.

If you’re American, it might be embarrassing at first to see how the countries featured in this movie operate from a more compassionate model of society instead of the “me first” approach to getting all that you can for yourself characteristic of the modern America ethos.  But the film is irresistibly inspiring.

Ironically, Michael Moore discovers that many of these ideas originated in America. What happened to us, I wonder?  Isn’t it time to take these thriving models from other countries and apply them at home to create a culture rooted in care and compassion rather than continue to germinate a hotbed of violence?

Freedom or Insanity?

You see, I find it confusing that American leaders preach the need for a war on terrorism, when violence runs rampant in our very own country.

These facts that depict the unique face of gun violence in America from the BBC startle me and make me wonder what on earth is collectively wrong with us?

  • “So many people die annually from gunfire in the US that the death toll between 1968 and 2011 eclipses all wars ever fought by the country. According to research by Politifact, there were about 1.4 million firearm deaths in that period, compared with 1.2 million US deaths in every conflict from the War of Independence to Iraq.”
  • There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogues such incidents.
  • There were 64 school shootings in 2015, according to a dedicated campaign group set up in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut in 2012.
  • Some 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 26,819 people were injured [those figures exclude suicide]. Those figures are likely to rise by several hundred, once incidents in the final week of the year are counted.
  • The number of gun murders per capita in the US in 2012 – the most recent year for comparable statistics – was nearly 30 times that in the UK, at 2.9 per 100,000 compared with just 0.1.
  • The US spends more than a trillion dollars per year defending itself against terrorism, which kills a tiny fraction of the number of people killed by ordinary gun crime.

Naturally, we all feel devastated when an incident of mass gun violence occurs.  But how often do we have a chance to sit down and take in the whole picture?  How often do we let it sink in that this is not normal when you consider the experience in many other countries, which shows this is not inevitable?

After reading these facts, these are some of the questions that come to my mind:

  • Is this freedom or insanity?
  • Is it freedom to live in fear when your child goes to school?
  • Is it freedom to live in fear because your skin is a different color?
  • Is it freedom to feel fear when you practice your religion?
  • Do I want to live in a violent country?
  • Does this country really need a “war” on terrorism, when terrorism only accounts for a small number of gun deaths in this country,  or would we be better off improving own dysfunctional systems? (Note, I’m not suggesting we ignore terrorism.)

What thoughts come up for you?

Be the Change

As an American, I feel we need to seriously review our societal structures and values and ask, “Why do so many of our people feel compelled to kill others?”  And, please don’t blame it on the poor, disenfranchised, or people of color.

It doesn’t have to be like this.  It’s not this way in many other countries.  For example,

In 1996, after a gun massacre left 35 dead, Australia banned semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns.  What happened?  Their gun homicide rate fell by 65%, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides.  (Occupy Democrats)

It’s not enough to think, “I’m not violent so this doesn’t relate to me.”  There’s something built into our societal fabric that allows murder to be too commonplace.  As long as we don’t speak up and go about business as usual, we silently support these structures.

We’re part of this collective, thus we each need to stand up and lend our voice to a new America that says “no” to aggression, unbridled power for the rich, and disrespect of human dignity.

If you watch Michael Moore’s movie, you’ll also learn how children are served delectable school lunches in France and teens are honestly taught about the Holocaust in Germany, rather than denying this unsavory part of history.  You’ll see how workers are mandated representation on company boards in Italy and women are given equal representation on these boards in Iceland.

I don’t think we could adopt any of these methods wholesale.  They wouldn’t necessarily work for us without addressing our underlying value structures at the same time. But we could begin with one step and that step forward would already be changing our values.  And then we could move on to the next step.

For example, how could nutritious school lunches threaten anyone?  French school lunches are even cheaper than their counterparts in the US, and they’re multi-course meals.

But we each have a choice to make.  Will you accept living in a violent country or will you make a commitment to live in a compassionate one?

Shift the Focus to ‘We’

When asked to share a message for America, one female CEO from Iceland said:  “Change your focus from ‘I’ to ‘we.'”

A Portuguese police officer responded this way to the same question:  “Respect for human dignity.”

And, in fact, as you watch the people in this film, you feel their caring heart.  For example, you get the sense it feels entirely normal, healthy, and unquestionable to want children to have delicious and nutritious lunches at school.  The life-enhancing structures they’ve created in these countries express their love for children, their wish for good health for all, and their commitment to equality.

I’m not saying that Americans are bad.  I’m just saying parts of our system are terribly broken.  We could do far better, but that won’t happen if we don’t stand up.

I’m not saying the people in Michael Moore’s movie are perfect either, that these countries are not contributing to global warming, or that they don’t use more than their fair share of the world’s resources.  But they have a better, more compassionate way of living together.

Time to wake up America, take notice, learn, and change.

What do you think?  I would love to hear.

Thank you for reading.  If you liked this post, please share it with others.  Your shares make a big difference.  Thank you!  May you be well, happy, and safe – always.

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29 Comments

  1. I read your blog often, but rarely (if ever?) comment, but I just want to thank you for sharing this. I do think many of our systems in America are broken, and would SO love to replace the atmosphere of fear/anger/hate with one of compassion and caring. I’m at a loss as to how to do this, other than personally trying to act in a kind and compassionate way to those around me. I guess that’s a start.

  2. So nice to connect, Kathy! Thanks for taking a moment to say hello and share your love. I really feel your heart in what you’ve said. I think starting with ourselves is a good place to begin and maybe from there other possibilities will unfold. We’re in this together. Wishing you the best with this.

  3. As always food for thought Sandra. Love is the answer to all the ills of the world imho. Whatever the form, be it compassion, kindness, or tolerance…whatever the nature…and it begins in us, because we can never give what we don’t have.

  4. As I thought about this, Sandra, it seems to me that there are SO many compassionate people who do so much outside the system. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had a system that actually backed up and assisted in the compassionate actions in a flexible way? Yes there are exceptions but I see so many individuals rallying to help people who need help badly, but the system is on automatic and a lot falls through the cracks, is wasted or misused that could be employed to help the unpaid helpers who are acting from their hearts. I would love to see that movie! Thanks for the heads up, because I am not usually a movie-goer.

    • A beautiful thought, Jean. Cause you’re right, there are so many people acting from a compassionate heart in this country too. A system that would help them, that would be amazing! I think you’ll like the movie.

  5. Some interesting ideas Sandra, definitely makes me want to catch the documentary. I think all cultures would benefit from acting from a more compassionate place <3

  6. Vicky White

    Very well put and much food for thought here Sandra. Having heard the title of the film for the last few weeks I assumed it was about something different. I’m looking forward to seeing it. It feels like we’ve all tended to put more importance on money than anything else and I think we’re seeing where that’s led us around the world.

    I to We. I’m hoping the pendulum will swing back.
    Love always beats fear.

    • So nice to “see” you, Vicky. I thought the movie was about something completely different too, which might also be a valuable topic itself. Turned out to be different and very interesting. I think that’s generally true about money, but I found that sense softened in most people in this film, at least more in balance with other values. And I feel that’s encouraging.

      I’m for love too!

  7. Wow! Sandra. Such a powerful post with impactful statistics and information. I’m with you. The facts startle me and make me wonder what is wrong with us too! I do think making the shift from “I” to “we” and creating a culture of care would make a big positive difference.

    We have to move away from living, encouraging, and creating fear.

    • I’m glad it resonated for you. I know I don’t feel the full weight of what is really occurring until I see the big picture like this. These numbers really stop me in my tracks too. I admire your wish to move aware for a focus on fear as a culture! May it be so!

  8. Suzie Cheel

    Yes Sandra Be the change, I think that when we lead by example that we can make our contribution to freedom . Suzie an important post you have written , Freedom is something we must treasure

  9. I LOVE Michael Moore’s movies! Just when we think everything is “just fine” here in the US, he shines the light on how dysfunctional and “anti-people” our systems are. When people say that more compassionate things “can’t be done,” he shows how they’ve been successfully a part of many cultures for many years. Yes, it’s definitely time to care more about people than the profits of the large corporations that own our political system.

    • That’s it, isn’t it, Paige – caring more about people. You put your finger on the crux of it. I always find Michael Moore’s movies engaging too. And, this one is a bit different than the rest.

  10. Living in Canada, we are very aware of and impacted by what happens in the U.S. I would love to see Michael Moore’s new film, as I find him a voice of positive change, who for me anyways, cannot come too soon. Unfortunately, the movie is not playing currently here in Toronto.

    My sense is that the mass consciousness of the U.S. is not quite ready for the change, although the recent presidential primaries shows that a great number of people who supported Bernie Sanders, see that those changes are long overdue. Too many Americans seem out of touch with their humanity and the stats you shared are staggering and sad and really are a call to stand up for what is most important to the majority of people. Seems that unfortunately, fear is running rampant. It appears that the radical shifts and changes that are most needed, are being blocked for ‘fear’ of losing economic control. Isn’t that what the gun industry is ultimately about? I feel very sad a lot of the time at the current state of our humanity and I firmly believe in standing for what you believe in. Thanks for sharing this Sandra, as so many of us resonate and align with your message. My wish is that there are enough of us in this collective voice that allow the rethinking and re-imaging to happen. We all are being asked to speak up and out and to be an active participant in bringing about the changes we want to see!

    • I think you have a good finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the U.S., Beverley. There are remarkable positive indications, as you say, but I also think you’re right about the mass consciousness not being ready for these level of changes. We’re really talking about very deep chances in consciousness. As you suggest, I think we need to keep speaking out for goodness and in time, change will come. Thanks for sharing your heart-felt thoughts.

  11. Hum, okay I’ll bite. I think it’s one thing to look at the system as a whole and point to how dysfunctional it is, but it’s quite another to actually create meaningful change and that’s where a lot of people are stuck and frustrated – in that middle ground. I don’t disagree with the need for reform but tend to focus closer to home.

    I have always believed real change happens on the grassroots community level, and that is where every one of us can get involved and make a difference, whether the issue is homelessness, violence or domestic abuse. When we stop waiting for Big Brother in DC to fix things for us and reclaim our communities and deal with each other on a face-to-face level, then we’ll start to see a ripple effect of positive change taking place.

    • I’m so glad you said this, Marquita. It’s true, it’s not easy to effect change and it could be eons before it happens on a governmental level. I too feel that grassroots action is extremely important. That was also what was so cool about this movie. You could really feel how people held these positive values in their heart. I think both need to happen local and governmental action, but as you say it’s good to invest where we know we can make a difference.

  12. Hi, Sandra

    It is a big issue. It can’t solved by just love only. The change must be brought about by the many levels. The financial system of government must be improved so that the change can be supported. The law is too nice to the people who do the crime.

    The most important areas are community and families where love and positive ID are developed.

    I can’t see the situation will be getting better soon. I am not negative but I don’t think Americans are catching with the changes.

    Will Share!

    Stella Chiu

    • It is complex, isn’t it, Stella. There isn’t an easy answer and as you say, we must address this at many different levels. Let’s hope for the best. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Freedom is not only a collective and universal desire but perhaps the one most avoided yet wanted within ourselves. That is where the outer freedom..around the world…begins.

  14. Sandra,
    I’m totally with you – everything begins with us. Love always x

  15. When the change comes it will come from women I feel. This culture of care is something that makes perfect sense and always intrigued me by its simplicity. It will take a massive mindset shift but change is in the air and it comes from within.

    The more we care for ourselves, really care at a deep level, the easier that shift will be. Great post. Thank for taking the time to write it.

    • I appreciate your vision of women leading the change, Madonna. I think you’re so right – the inner and the out are very interconnected. Thanks for your kind words. I felt especially passionate about this post so it means a lot for me to hear your appreciation.

  16. I choose freedom. So many stats you provided and very eye opening. Now let’s not focus there and use that to move our focus to humankindness. We all have a part in this…

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