Great documentaries

I am in the process of binge-watching documentaries this week, before school heats up and I get buried underneath assignments, ballroom dance classes, workouts, cooking, the application process—for a Masters program in Accounting—and my usual reading.

Tonight I watched Forks over Knives—an excellent film promoting a whole food, plant-based diet as the surest way to get and maintain health—and am watching Woodstock. Up next are The Rape of Europa, about the Nazi theft of artwork across occupied Europe, and The Triumph of the Will, which I feel I must watch in spite of its inherent repulsiveness. Woodstock and Triumph of The Will are of course on Ebert’s Great Movies list, and I am edging closer to being halfway through that—an achievement of sorts, since it contains damn near 400 films of all genres and eras.

As I watch Woodstock, I wonder what went wrong—not why so many who were prominent among the liberals died so young, but how so many people could collectively decide that they placed no value on having a single substantive thought run through their heads.

The organizer of the festival told the director of the documentary that the power of the music for these kids lay in its beat and the lyrics—in a completely vacuous statement, which is his clear style. So, you say, let’s listen to the lyrics. In the first song I hear about the “fields of Dunkirk”—which as is well-known do not exist, as Dunkirk is a beach town.

What’s peculiar is that while the hippies gave (and still give) the appearance of having a substantive philosophy, based on peace, goodwill, and a general relaxation of all standards, they in fact represented the absence of any substance. Virtually nobody disagrees that peace is the ultimate ideal. What the hippies failed to realize is that peace is something that must be worked for, and that the “how” of the matter requires deep and compelling thought. Goodwill only has a positive effect when those to whom it is extended lack the inclination to murder you. In the absence of that, goodwill does nothing. Extending a hug to a Nazi would do a Jew no good, just as extending a hug to a Muslim does a Westerner no good.

The tragedy of Woodstock appears to me to be that this generation of kids grew up without discipline and without cultivated intelligence. And what’s now most disturbing is that they have passed these omissions onto their children.

Where do we go from here???