Disobey! Photo by Finijo
Street Art Lyon, France July 2011
I watched a documentary, The Lottery of Birth, this week and it has had me thinking ever since. The title is what made me click "play" on Amazon Prime, because I sometimes think about the particular circumstances that had to occur for me to end up in my life, with the family that I have, doing the work I do, and I know that if the butterfly flapped its wings in a different way or at a different time, this would not be my life. It is probably the same for everyone, but for me, the moments that changed my life are etched without ambiguity in my mind, and it is clear to me that the flow of my life was disrupted and diverted in specific ways to drive me toward the path I currently walk. It is probably the same for everyone, but these are the thoughts that occupy my mind when I am alone and pondering my life, both past and future.
On IMDB the synopsis reads:
THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH is the first in a three-part documentary series entitled 'Creating Freedom' exploring the relationship between freedom, power and control in Western democracies. The series draws together interviews with some of the world's leading intellectuals, journalists and activists to offer an alternative perspective on today's society and the future we're creating. We do not choose to exist, or the environment we grow up in. Our starting point in life is one of passive reliance on forces over which we have no control. THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH shows that from birth onwards our minds are a battleground of competing forces: familial, educational, cultural, and professional. The outcome of this battle not only determines who we become, but the society that we create. - Written by Anonymous
The Lottery of Birth is a film for thinkers, filled with scientists, authors, and activists discussing the ideas of power, obedience, and control and how they influence ideas, in particular the idea of freedom in the Western world. We have all had the thought that if we were born into a culture that was oppressive, controlling, and abusive, that we would somehow extricate ourselves and our loved ones from what to a Western mind is akin to a fate worse than death. The first part of this three part documentary explores the idea that if any one of us was born to different parents, in a different country, under a different government, we would have an entirely different belief system. It sounds like a simple idea, but I think it is profound.
The difference it would make in the world if everyone was cognizant of the fact the only thing separating us is something that none of us had any control over - where and to whom we were born. If we all knew that our lot in life was actually a lottery and not a birthright, and that our culture is not something we have chosen to adopt, but rather something that has molded us and our views of the world, then we might not be so willing to blindly accept that our country and culture are the best in the world, or that someone else's is the worst. If we don't have this knowledge, then we unable to shape and mold our government or our society. Questioning the actions of our government, our families, our friends, our employers is imperative to seeking truth, but questioning and the truth are frightening for people and governments who would like to divert attention from things that citizens would find untenable. Keeping the citizens complacent keeps those in power free to silently maneuver the masses away from wealth, power, and freedom. Keeping us separate from one another, makes the people weaker and the world a more violent place.
Most of us go through life like Neo before he takes the red pill and wakes up, but we should be questioning our lives, our bosses, our parents, our clergy, and our government. This film puts forth the idea that we are all political, including the people who claim to be non-political. The so called non-politicals promote the status quo, and their lack of opinion/action supports whatever political viewpoint that is served by keeping things as they are.
I found the assertion in The Lottery of Life that "obedience is dangerous" to be evident throughout history and relevant even today. From the obvious example of Nazis who were "only following orders," to the faceless employees who do whatever their employers ask, even if it means spewing pollution into rivers and skies, making that almighty buck at the expense of the health of people who will suffer and even die so that people in power can keep power and make more profit.
The questions that keeps worming its way back into my thoughts today is, "Have I been disobedient enough in my life?" I don't believe I have and I think I need work to change that.