Matt and I just finished watching a film called Even the Rain. In it, a famous director and his crew go to Bolivia to make a movie about Christopher Columbus and the exploitation of the Natives. Christopher Columbus didn’t land on the coast of Bolivia, since Bolivia is landlocked. But the film is being made there because labor is cheap. This premise serves to support the overall theme of the movie – exploitation of people and resources is deeply ingrained in our global economy and ongoing.
As this movie is being filmed, the Bolivians hired to play the Natives are taking part in the Cochabamba Water War. Basically, water is scarce in the first place. Poverty is rampant. The World Bank steps in to privatize water, effectively barring the common people from access to a basic necessity. The people protest. It gets violent. People die. And the stories of history, the film crew, and the water warriors intertwine.
It’s a good movie, worth watching. I wasn’t familiar with the history, but Matt had read about it in John Perkin’s, The Secret History of the American Empire: Economic Hit Men, Jackals, and the Truth about Global Corruption.
I don’t want to give away too much. Nothing is solved. But, there is something hopeful in the story.
Right now, I am on an internet sabbatical. I am posting a daily blog, checking the weather, doing necessary research for some writing projects, and checking email once daily, but I am not reading any news or visiting the sites I normally read. I don’t know what’s going on in the world.
Earlier today, while doing some of that necessary research, I heard Marjory Wildcraft of The Grow Network say appetite fatigue is real. She was talking about hunkering down in a potential collapse scenario and how you can only eat beans and rice so long before you just can’t take another bite, no matter how hungry you are. This was in the context of the importance of growing herbs. But it reminded me why I decided to take an internet sabbatical for the month of January in the first place.
I had bad news fatigue. I just couldn’t take reading about new environmental disasters daily, the horrors happening to people who I couldn’t help, or the assholes effectively getting away with murder by proxy. We can become desensitized. We can stop being able to care or we get tunnel vision and just see what we want to see. And it was happening to me.
There was a key point in the movie when one of the main characters says to another character something like “You don’t understand. Water is life.” And the other character didn’t understand about water being life because he was a privileged movie executive with noting real to worry about. But at the end of the movie, the movie executive does something selfless to save one person.
And that’s what was so hopeful about this film. There is so much we can’t do and can’t fix. But there is always something we can do, right where we are. It’s not that the big stories and things happening around the world aren’t important. They are. But maybe we need to do what we can, where we are. We can make kinder choices and help our immediate communities. Maybe we can set aside our bad news fatigue and work on the things we do have control over.