Art and I like to watch independent and foreign films whenever we can. Usually, we have to leave Rome to see these movies, whose accolades seem to have reached every corner but ours. This weekend, fortunately, the movies came to us, in the form of the Unspoken International Human Rights Film Festival.
We at the Capitol have partnered with Unspoken for a few years, and the film submissions from around the world tell a variety of stories. The common thread, no matter what nation or group the film hails from, is that there are people out there who aren’t content to deal with the status quo of human rights violations. Instead, they—sometimes alone, sometimes with others—stand up and say “that’s enough.” There comes a point where they can’t watch horrible things happen to themselves, their families, or even perfect strangers, and make it a large part of their life to work toward changing it.
The films that I watched spanned many issues. I watch films about prison, about government, about police and the military, about living with a disability, and about healing trauma. Within these larger issues, the documentaries featured individuals whose face could be any face, really. The face of someone you know or someone you’ve met. It could even, but for the grace of a higher power, be your face.
Sure, I’ve known sad times in my life. I’ve experienced the death of loved ones to old age, accidents and disease, the breakup of a relationship, the divorce of my parents, the loss of friends due to changing goals, priorities, and distance. I’ve dealt with clinical depression, a mental illness that makes the lows seem that much lower, and the highs, when they come at all, almost devoid of their sweetness as you wait for the next low to come.
But what I’ve dealt with can’t even compare to the woes others around the world have seen. I watched people continuing to stand up to fight though their friends and loved ones were slaughtered for simply being of a different culture. I watched young people weep with joy at the thought of attending university, after living on the street when their loved ones, all of the adults in their lives, were killed by their neighbors. I watched people around the world fighting laws that allowed loopholes for killing, kidnapping, and other atrocities. But most of all, I watched people who had been trampled time and time again keep fighting, often for decades, to see justice done and make the world a better place.
There are many people who seem to make venting and complaining a way of life. It’s often the little things: restaurant steak not hot enough, mobile internet not speedy enough, car in front of them not fast enough. They complain about things that are often of their own making; money woes because they live beyond their means, being late because they managed their time poorly, “poor” customer service because they themselves are poor customers. Sometimes I wish that complaining people would step back and realize all of the wonderful things that they have, and maybe give a little thanks for the blessings in their lives.