Posts Tagged ‘movie’

The Other Reason “Spotlight” Is Still Relevant Today

Every year my wife goes off on vacation, and I use the time to catch up on Oscar-winning movies from years past. This summer I saw maybe a half dozen, all of which were superbly made, one of which stood out: Spotlight.

In case you haven’t seen it, Spotlight chronicles The Boston Globe’s investigation of sexual abuse and its cover-up in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. It can be painful to watch, as we viewers get to relive the horror of the successive revelations—starting with a handful of priests and blossoming into a worldwide scandal.

Horribly, that scandal is with us even today, which makes Spotlight still relevant. But it’s still relevant for another reason too: its in-depth look at investigative journalism. The sources I’ve read (in The Atlantic and The Washington Post, to name two) attest to the movie’s accurate portrayal of the drudgery, doggedness, and gems of discovery that make for good investigative journalism.

If anything, that portrayal is more relevant in 2018 than in 2015, when the movie hit theaters. It carries two lessons that we desperately need to hear nowadays, long and loud and often.

First lesson: we need good journalism. None of us have the time, means, or energy to gather the full picture on all the news stories that impact our lives one way or another. That’s why we have journalists: to find those stories, explore them in depth, and report them to us.

In another era, this assertion would be dismissed as obvious. It’s not so obvious anymore, thanks to our post-truth culture, and that carries ramifications for all of us. Journalists must prioritize accuracy and thoroughness and fairness in their reporting (as, I think, the vast majority of them do now). Those who would pervert good journalism—the purveyors of deliberate misinformation masquerading as news—need to get their slimy fingerprints off the internet, NOW.

The rest of us get the second lesson: we must stop denigrating good journalists. If they are our source for the stories that impact our lives, and we have trained ourselves never to trust them—worse, to consider them the “enemy of the people”—who else do we have? The default, nowadays, is to revert to the sources who agree with our current beliefs. It’s as if we think, “All media are the enemy, except my media.”

Can anyone else see the absurdity of that?

Is there bias in the media? Sure. The media are comprised of humans—from corporate owners right down to reporters— and humans have biases. Should that prevent us from listening to them? Not at all. We can listen skeptically, pay attention to several sources from different perspectives, read international media as well as that in our own country, suss out who provides the greatest depth and balance. By doing so, we can get as close to a full, accurate picture of the issue as it’s possible to get.

This process is time-consuming. But it’s doable. It may also be essential for the health of our world.

Why Today’s Cynicism Isn’t Enough: The Sequel

few days ago, I received a response to last week’s post from my good friend Kim. Kim is both a deeply committed Christian and a remarkable thinker, so it came as no surprise that her response took the whole conversation in a new and deeper direction—away from a critique of today’s cynicism and toward a reflection on cynics themselves and how they might move from cynicism to hope. Here (lightly edited and condensed to fit the space here) is an excerpt:

First off, I totally one hundred percent agree with your critique of the cynical mindset…. I also agree that critiques of culture, institutions, or individual circumstances need a “To” direction.  Getting rid of the negative or undesirable factors, without also having a positive outcome towards which you are aiming, tends not to get anywhere….

Having said that, I think the article falls short in that it…doesn’t exactly address the larger issue. In my experience with cynics, and I encounter many…there is no motivation on the part of cynics to change. They are not seeking a positive “To” direction, because they do not believe that change is indeed possible. “Life’s a bitch, and then you die” is a fair summation of the cynic’s philosophy, mindset, worldview. Everything that could be tried has been tried, and found wanting.  In short, the cynic’s view is undergirded by a general sense of hopelessness.  If they did not feel that the situation (whatever situation that might be) was not hopeless, they would not be cynics. If they could envision a “To” direction, they would go in it.  But their negative mindset clouds their vision.

Vision is the ability to “call those things that are not as though they are.” In short, vision is faith.  Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. The visionary is able to see things that are not, and walk towards them. They realize their vision by seeing that which does not exist, and summoning it forth into existence by faith. Martin Luther King envisioned a world where people were not judged by the color of their skin. Mandela envisioned a South Africa post-apartheid. Bobby Kennedy said, “Some men see things as they are and ask ‘Why?’ I see things as they could be and ask ‘Why Not?'”

Cynics lack this basic capacity; in short, they lack faith. Not necessarily faith in a particular God or view of God, but basic faith that things can ever be better—better in their personal circumstances, better in our political system, better in our communities and institutions.

How does one get from Point A (cynicism) to Point B (hope)—that is the question….

I think…often the cynic is changed by the unfailing love he or she receives from a believer.  I have been watching the movie The Way this week, and it has a similar story line. A father loses his son, he is angry and bitter, and in the course of completing the pilgrimage across the northern Spanish coast—which his son was undertaking when he died—the father is changed. He is changed not by anyone telling him he needed an attitude adjustment, but by the human encounters he experiences along the way. Our hard attitudes are most often changed, not by lectures, but by the unselfish love and mercy we receive from others. We are changed by patient love that wears down our defenses over time.