Movies and Love and Changing the World

If working to build an amazing future for our world is all about our interconnectedness and interdependence, and if the best of our work builds upon our strengths, then the pair of movies we saw this weekend says more about the future of our world than I could have dreamed.

First, of course, we saw SICKO, Michael Moore’s new movie about healthcare (or the lack thereof) in the U.S. One cannot leave the theater without the overwhelming sense that we are all so interconnected and interdependent, and that it is stupid stupid stupid to think otherwise.

One also cannot leave the theater without realizing that a strong nation and a strong world can only be built upon our collective strength. When a handful of individuals preys upon everyone else, we replace our world’s potential with spiraling, debilitating weakness.

These thoughts have been all the more poignant because of where Dimitri and I have been this weekend. We have been spending an extended weekend visiting two people we love. She is 50; her life mate and soulmate is considerably older. She is at the top of her profession, a powerhouse, a true life force. He is suffering from the rapid advance of Lewy Body dementia. Our friend is watching the man she adores deteriorate before her eyes.

Dimitri and I also adore him. We came to visit because we do not know how many more chances we will have to play with this incredibly playful man. We came because we want his wife, our dear friend, to know that we are just a few hours drive away if she needs us. And mostly, we came because we love them both.

And here is what we found when we arrived.

He needs treatment, but they are not sure how they will afford it. She wants to take the time she needs to be with him, to nurse him, but that cannot happen. She must work, not just to pay their regular bills, but to pay his medical bills. And when the dementia gets to the point where he will need more care than she can provide, it is likely they will have to sell the home he designed and furnished, each room a loving work of art – they will have to sell that home, to provide him with the care he will need to make his last months livable.

My friend is at the top of her professional game. She has health insurance. He is on Medicare. And they are worried about losing their home and their life.

I wish this were the only story we knew like this. I wish every American didn’t have a handful of such tales, just in each immediate family alone.

But there is hope. And the hope came for me after seeing another movie this weekend: Ocean’s Thirteen. As the Oceans movies all are, this is happy, funny, sweet. We laughed out loud, and left smiling.

And that is when it hit me. It wasn’t the heist or the con that made Ocean’s Thirteen so enjoyable. It wasn’t the over-the-top precision of the plan, or the comeuppance of the various bad guys.

It was the love. That’s why we left Ocean’s Thirteen so happy. It’s because they all look out for each other and are demonstrative in showing that they care about each other. Don Cheadle’s character writes letters of pure platonic love to the character played by Elliott Gould, and those letters heal him. Each and every one of characters shows real affection to the others in scene after scene. You know these tough guys love each other.

The bad guys were not overpowered simply by smarts; they were overpowered by smarts motivated by love.

Love made us drive across the desert in the middle of summer, to be there for our friends. Love makes us smile in the movies, and love makes us smile in real life.

We are all interconnected. We are all interdependent.

As we left the theater after Ocean’s Thirteen, I realized that was how Michael Moore had ended his own movie – talking about the fact that we do indeed all care about each other. We are a decent, caring, compassionate people. And we are certainly no less caring and compassionate than people in any other country, anywhere else in the world.

And then I saw the parallels so clearly. In the end, the gang in Ocean’s Thirteen did not just win because they were the good guys. The good guys won because the bad guys held the seeds of their own undoing – ego, greed, hubris.

So here are my recommendations for this U.S. holiday week:
Go see SICKO.
And go see Ocean’s Thirteen.
Then go see a friend you have not seen in a long time.

And when you get back to work, instead of thinking of others doing the same work as you as your “competition,” try instead to focus on the things that connect you to each other.

Because that interconnectedness is where our strength is.

And because strength builds upon strength.

And because when our strength is built upon our interconnectedness – that is where all our potential lies.

For other posts on healthcare, CLICK here.

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