Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Michael Moore: Unlikely Prophet

Prophets come in all shapes and sizes. In the Bible Prophet Jeremiah was laughed out of town because he told the truth. Amos was challenged by the local gendarmes because they snidely said he was only a “picker of sycamore fruit.” Emphasis on the only. But when Martin Luther King began to speak he quoted Amos often: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” While Micah would challenge his people: “to do justice and love kindness and to walk humbly with their God.” Prophets are truth tellers while false prophets tell people what they want to hear.

I think Michael Moore is a prophet. Funny looking, fat, wearing a baseball cap, shuffling from one thing to another. He has taken on the automobile industry, the food industry, the health care crisis—and now he turns his camera on capitalism. His film is called: Capitalism: A Love Story. And it it not a pretty picture.

He is obnoxious as many prophets are. He makes people absolutely furious. All his films are uneven—but for me they contain more than a kernel of truth. He would agree with Jesus when he said, “A person’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he/she possesses.” Some wags today would say that must be socialism. Adding, of course, that capitalism is as American as Apple Pie.

And yet Michael puts his finger on our pulse. Greed is killing us all, he says. He reminds us that the richest 1 percent of Americans have more than the bottom 95 percent. He also says that there is something called: “dead peasant insurance.” Many companies are taking out life insurance policies on their workers. The companies, not the families, collect the benefits when the workers die. Often the survivors never knew about the policy.

Prophet Michael also shows us the human side of the pain. Folk who have lost their houses because of foreclosure. Good, hard-working people who had been living in their homes for years. In the film we meet one family who are losing their farm after living there for four generations. Moore says that two-thirds of all the personal bankruptcies in our country are caused by the high cost of health care.

Michael does not have many solutions except challenging the people to “not take it anymore.” He calls for a ballot box revolution. He still believes in the old American dream that folk can determine the direction of their living if enough care and act. He even believes this strange notion that our representatives in Washington are supposed to represent us—not big moneyed interests.

I came away from the movie sad when I thought of all the people in this country—not to speak of the rest of the world—that are hanging on by their fingernails. Most are not deadbeats—but these are just decent folk that have been dealt a lousy hand.

You can often tell a lot about us by studying our checkbooks and our Credit card statements. How we spend our money tells us something about our priorities. Reckon that applies to business and government as well as individuals? Hmmm.

Don’t take my word for it—go see: Capitalism: A Love Story. Maybe if enough of us really do get mad as hell we really might not take it any more. Remember the old words: "of the people, by the people, for the people..." Wouldn’t that be something!

1 comment:

  1. Pat and I saw this movie this your description of Michael Moore as an unlikely prophet. We agree that it is a movie everyone should see. Maybe Prophet Moore will challenge and motivate Americans to change things. That is how it affected me.