My wife and I discovered our penchant for documentary films at the Temecula Valley Film Festival. In mainstream moviemaking, Michael Moore is the undisputed king of documentaries, but it's not like there is a lot of competition in the genre of film.
I have been a health-care provider at a state residential facility for the last 30 years. While some people have "white coat syndrome" that can cause blood pressure to rise just at the sight of a doctor, there are few places I feel more comfortable than in a hospital.
I have spent more time visiting friends and family in the hospital than being visited, though I did have surgery at Inland Valley Medical Center a few years ago to repair a herniated disc in my neck. Readers who have accused me of not having my head screwed on straight can now feel vindicated.
But as I talk with friends on both ends of the political spectrum, I find that party rhetoric disintegrates the moment issues of personal importance are discussed. If you tell me a family member is ill, I don't ask about their politics; I ask how they are doing.
In Michael Moore's "Sicko," he asks the apolitical question: How healthy is America's health care system? Moore answers the question with a global perspective and equal opportunity slams of politicians on both political extremities. Hillary Clinton takes an astonishing hit near the beginning of the movie.
I learn things from documentaries and, at less than five bucks an hour, the education received is a bargain. "Sicko" is definitely not the feel-good movie of the summer, as it may cause tears to flow and get your blood boiling. If you want entertainment, turn on the network news, but if you want some information, go to the movies and see "Sicko."
Most of us know of the influence corporations have on our lawmakers, but it is something else to see the toll it has taken on the well-being of Americans. I used to find pharmaceutical commercials telling me to ask my doctor for this drug or that ridiculous, but now I see them as downright obscene -- and I don't mean because of the ads for Viagra and Trojan condoms. Exactly when did prescription medication become a commercial commodity in America?
We have been brainwashed with propaganda that tells us socialized medicine is bad, even as patients in our privatized hospital system are stacked in hallways like so many cars in traffic. Our uninsured fellow citizens are dropped off on skid row because that is the best post-admission care our mercenary medical system can provide.
The conservative "culture of life" tells us pregnancy is sacred even as we let the uninsured baby die. "Illegal" lives have less value, as do those people living in the countries we choose to invade. I wish they'd invent a pill for our bipolar society.
"Sicko" shows that other countries govern under a real culture of life that is meaningful and not just a sound bite. Ironically, our corporate/government leadership has become fearful of the very precept of democracy born here in these "united" states in 1776.
Other countries have learned the meaning of democracy while America reels backward into an imperialist aristocracy. Moore teaches us that as history repeats itself at home, we can see signs of progress from "Old Europe" and other places abroad.
The big screen broadens perspectives in more ways than one.
Paul Jacobs of Temecula is a regular columnist for The Californian. E-mail: TemeculaPaul@aol.com.