My father asked me this morning what Michael Moore is doing (the guy from “Roger and Me,” the documentary about the auto industry’s decline and its impact on his hometown of Flint). Turns out he has a new film available on amazon.com. My father suggested we watch it and my mother thought this was a great idea. What a pair of commies.
The film is called “Where To Invade Next.” The premise is that instead of the US invading all these struggling countries, spending billions and damaging their own soldiers as well as civilians abroad. Instead, they should send him to Europe to conquer their great ideas.
He visits Italy and learns about the positive impact of 8 weeks’ vacation, talking with Italian millionaires who are uninterested in taking away vacation time to be richer.
He visits France where the schools treat lunch as another class where children learn what healthy and flavorful eating can be.
He visits Finnland and learns that by giving less homework, letting children spend less time in school and more time playing, and teaching music and the arts and not teaching to the test, Finnland’s educational performance has sprung from tied with the US (around 29) in the 1970s to being the best education system in the world.
He visits Slovenia where no one carries college debt (including the US students).
He visits Norway where prisons are built around rehabilitation rather than revenge. The parent of a victim of the Oslo shooter spoke about his commitment to the murderer getting a fair trial, because that is how Norway is better than hatred or terrorism.
He visits Tunisia to learn about the strength of the women’s rights movement (including reproductive health rights currently being stripped from women in the US).
He visits Iceland where women have reached something close to equality and also ran the only bank that didn’t collapse when the Icelandic economy collapsed (due to male-run high risk financial ventures) and who helped put the economy back together.
Overall the theme was that workers’ and students’ rights are assured when workers and students fight for them, and countries that watch out for each other instead of only themselves.
But the most moving story is that of Portugal, which stopped prosecuting drug use and began treating it as a condition requiring medical care. Drug use has actually declined over the past fifteen years when they abandoned their own war on drugs. Moore interviewed police officers in Oslo and asked them what message they would like to share with police in the United States. “Remembering that your topmost job is to preserve human dignity,” they said. They said that was part of what they were trained in as cadets.
As I think about the officers involved in racism, violence and sexual brutality in my hometown, I couldn’t help but choke back tears as they looked into the camera and made that plea to our officers. I wonder what our country might look like if preserving human dignity were the top priority of law enforcement. I can barely imagine it, but I am grateful to those working to make it a reality here as well as in Portugal.