I read the news every morning over coffee. By the time I finish my cup, I can not read any more.

The world is too upsetting. 

Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s our media pumping out the worst of the world for ratings or if things really are that bad. This does not stop me from reading. 

In fact, I do it because it upsets me. I think if more people paid attention this way, our world might be a better place. Not because I am going to run out and become an activist for every cause that upsets me, because that is imposible. It is because I am open to experiencing the upset of the world that it changes me.

I know there is no way I can solve every problem, but that does not mean I should ignore them. When the times comes, I find that my education on topics such as this help me make compassionate decisions. 

When discussing the recent events that lead to our nation’s topic on gun control, a friend of mine was telling me how “shocked” she was at how horrible mass violence has become. I laughed and said, to her dismay, that I was not shocked at all. 

When she inquired why I told her this: 

"We all have the capability to do horrific acts of violence and unspeakable evil to one another. To deny that part of yourself is to deny our nature. Under the right circumstances, you too could make a choice you currently see as horrific. Whether premeditated or impulsive it does not matter. The evil in our world does not simply go away because you choose to ignore it. It exists, pulsing through your viens. I am not shocked to hear the awful things that happen because I know that I myself am wholly capable of doing the same. It is that awareness of this truth that allows me to make that choice. We have yet to evolve to a place where we can see that some people are not aware of the difference. We treat the body, not the mind. Until we strive to understand ourselves more deeply - these acts will continue." 

So buck up, open your heart and watch one of these. Don’t be shocked the next time something happens. This is also why I love documentary. It has the power to change, educate and open your heart and mind. Netflix is full of amazing documentary work. Brave filmmakers who dare to enter these spaces so that you can learn about them. 

They are phenomenally courageous films, and I highly recommend you watch them. 

1. Mugabe and the White African. 

A farmer and his family fight a corrupt government to save their South African farm in Zimbabwe. This film is beautifully shot and heartbreaking. This documentary got short listed for an Oscar and beat out by Burma VJ (Also on Netflix). Between the two, I think this one is stronger. When the last slide comes up before the credits, I broke into tears. More people need to know this story. It will challenge how you view race, government and the traditional hero.  

2. The Cove

I am sure you have heard of this one. You may have even been cautioned to watch it. It documents what happens in a cove in Japan. Illegal fishing of dolphins. You need to see this. Then understand that we do this to animals on our home turf. This is not ok and has to stop. 

3. Dark Days

Beautiful black and white fllm about a homeless community that set up camp in the NY subway system. This movie will change the way you see your city and how you treat the man asking you for help in the subway. 

4. Cry of the Snow Lion

Forget that our history is littered with instances of people wiping out people. We still live in that world. This documentary follows the people of Tibet in exile. Here is a leadership corageous enough to call for peaceful means a world where others might take up arms. *cough* like us? 

5. Radio Bikini

This 1988 documentary literally blew my mind. Releasing declassified military footage of the 1946 atomic bomb tests on Bikini Atoll. You get to see the tests cut to interviews of those that were there. I sat with my mouth open the whole time, wanting to believe that what I saw was fake. I just… you have to see it. 

6. The Interrupters. 

I saved this one for last. Because it is happening on home turf. Want a bold inside look at what Chicago’s real problems are with youth violence? Then you have to see this. Forget Obama’s speech and gun law regulations. This will help you understand why none of that will work. I have never seen a filmmaker get closer and more raw honesty then this in Chicago. It is DVD only, but so worth it.