Luv Doc Recommends: Lights. Camera. Help. Film Festival
Bullock Texas State History Museum, Friday, July 29, 2011
Do-gooders are an especially irritating lot, if only for the fact that their actions are a humiliating indictment of the self-absorbed, hedonistic, slothful, and apathetic majority of humanity – those of us happily occupying the meat of the bell curve, so to speak. While it seems only natural that folks who enjoy a happy, healthy, prosperous existence ought to feel at least the tiniest tinge of moral conscience – some sort of faint desire to give back to a world that has given them so much – it's not always the case. Doing good … really doing good … takes a lot of time, energy, resources, and creativity – things that are often collectively referred to as a big pain in the ass. Just the overwhelming prospect of really doing good tends to completely bury that tiny voice of conscience, and if you arrange your life just so, you can pretty much ensure that voice never gets through at all. There's a reason people move to the suburbs. A venti latte from Starbucks is so much more enjoyable when you don't have a scrofulous homeless dude leaning across your windshield with a dirty squeegee and a wad of newspaper. There's no shame in avoiding such ugliness, only honesty. People don't acquire wealth so they can continue to wallow in poverty and squalor. In fact, the mere idea that people have the chance to improve their conditions is what powers the American way of life. Regardless of the relative success of our collective endeavors (the Panama Canal, the Hoover Dam, World War II, Neil Armstrong's moonwalk … as opposed to Michael Jackson's), Americans still hold firmly to the ideal of rugged individualism, and it is exactly this contradiction that is proving to be a sticky wicket in current political discourse. Can we rely on self-interest and the profit motive to do what's best for the public good, or as individuals are we better served by a sense of altruism and the notion that by improving the lives of everyone, we also help ourselves? The former seems to be holding sway in most of America these days. The puzzlingly (or, given the very powerful insurance lobby, maybe not so puzzlingly) vitriolic assault on "ObamaCare," the president's highly watered-down attempt at bringing down crippling (poor choice of metaphor?) health care costs, leads the charge, followed by a nearly unilateral assault on "entitlement" programs, otherwise known as social welfare. Sadly it seems, the issue of the efficiency and efficacy of social welfare programs has become secondary, tangential even, to the issue of their actual necessity. The question that is not being asked stridently enough is: What is the cost of their absence? Will weaning people off the government tit prove adequate incentive to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? What if poor people get so poor they can't even afford boots? Tough questions like the preceding are pondered most safely and comfortably in gated suburban communities – or rather, mostly not at all. However, if you're the type of masochist who would like to expose yourself to the pressing social issues of our times, but would maybe like to do so without smelling vomit and dried urine, this Friday you should head down to the Spirit of Texas Theater at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum for the 2011 Lights. Camera. Help. film festival, which celebrates nonprofit and cause-driven films. Friday features eight screenings covering topics such as homelessness, urban farming, and sexual violence against Native American women, among others. Who knows? These films might eat at your conscience, but they might also change your life. Oh yeah, one more thing: All proceeds go to the nonprofits associated with the films.