Commentary on the Documentary ‘Come and Worry With Us’ featuring the band ‘Thee Silver Mt. Zion’
Many times I used to say that ‘Music had saved my life,’ and I never questioned that much about the actual lives that musicians have. I probably was ‘happy’ to imagine that they made a good amount of money to be living well after having so many fans and so many shows but today I got to realize that that’s not the case and in a way it does give me yet another reason to implement a new way of living where no one should ever have to suffer, be existing in constant worry, fear and anxiety that comes from living in plain survival-mode when trying to ‘make it’ in this world in an honest manner, which is impossible in a system that is forged with the idea of success as the ultimate goal and neglecting how it currently is – most of the times – achieved only through the effective abuse and control imposed upon others, which means having to cheat, lie, deceive, be dishonest and selfish to be able to make it ‘that far’ without questioning why it is that not everyone can achieve such ‘high standards’ in the society? Why is there no real equal opportunity? why is this ‘successful living’ rather sold to us as this magnanimous lifestyle that is actually unsustainable if we all had the same ability to live in such a lavish modality – this means: it’s not meant to be part of what real life is meant to be in fact.
The documentary Come Worry With Us is an example of how one of my favorite bands actually live like in terms of ‘lifestyle’ and financial woes with the amount of money they earn, which is certainly a lot less than what I would have expected which my assumption of them being a ‘famous band’ therefore not ever having to worry about paying their bills – and here this should apply to Everyone – but this is specifically to debunk the ideas we also create around ‘the rich and the famous’ where not all ‘famous’ people really make ‘a lot of money’ as one could imagine.
Specifically here Godspeed You! Black Emperor and its offshoot Thee Silver Mount Zion are bands that I could have identified as the perfect soundtrack for everything that I could only probably only paint and try to ‘picture’ in frames: a desolate decadent world that is going down the drain, seeing nothing else but death and destruction and the perfect soundtrack for ‘the end of times,’ as well as being what can be defined as a ‘political band’ when it comes to denouncing warfare and the general deception in the political realm at the moment. But something changed in the life of the common member of both bands Efrim Menuck: he’s got a child now and so he realized that he had to ‘stop his own cynicism’ about life/the world and himself as now there is a person he’s brought into this world that should grow up to live in a better world than the one he is currently living in. I fully agree with this, and even if I don’t have children, every time I would see pregnant women or know of children being born I would create this inner fear almost sadness for them coming to this world that we are abusing and depleting faster than it could ever ‘replenish’ itself, while doing nothing to stop the ongoing destructive trend.
How many times do we say: ‘we require creating a better future for our kids’? It is saddening to see every single day news and articles of the kind of atrocities that are created toward children just because parents can’t afford taking good care of them – from dumping them on the garbage, abandoning them, giving them to adoption or having to make them work too and support with paying the basic needs at home. If there’s something I could worry about this life is precisely whether the little ones will have clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, whether they will be able to run around the streets and riding bikes and going out to playgrounds… or if they are going to be genuinely supported to their utmost potential at schools, whether their parents will be stable enough to raise them – huge point of concern – whether they are going to be having healthier ways of entertaining themselves, healthier eating habits – which are taught at home/ and through culture – whether they can in fact stop copying the fears, the mentality of the parents, whether they can in any way escape the generational sins that we’ve created in absolute selfishness because we believed that ‘it wasn’t going to be us facing the consequences,’ well, here we are, look around you and within you.
I would certainly not want anyone to suffer in this world, yet it is all I could always notice around me, or maybe it’s because it is existent as me and in everyone else: abuse, ignorance to the reality of how we create this world based on our absence of care, of presence to direct ourselves in our lives and relate to each other in a supportive manner.
In my case, all I could ever paint was suffering and I didn’t even know why because I had a good life compared to many that really have no support in this world. I do remember a phase in my life when I was around 9-10 years old where my father had a big problem at work, someone bought a lot of merchandise from him and ran away with it using a bad check – and we were almost broke and hearing about the fact that our house, that patrimony that my father was so proud about as ‘our property’ could be lost – the sheer thought of that frightened me a lot at night, the worry, sadness and frustration from seeing my father so depressed, so down, so worried and so angry as that was the only way he could exert his inner frustration about the legal situation and never ever getting that money back. This affected us all at home and I endured what it was to conform with having the basics and learned how to not to ask for more than what I truly required.
I remember at times thinking that if I didn’t exist any longer they could save the money from my food, my healthcare, my school which was a great effort since it was a good private school, I knew they were doing the effort to secure my future, to give me the best – and I know that every single parent wants the best for their children – but most nowadays cannot afford it at all, no matter how self-willed they have: there is simply no structural support to make those at the bottom of the pyramid scheme to rise. This is structural violence and children are meant to somehow accept that they are born into poverty, that mom and dad have to work 12 hours a day considering the commuting times and so children are raised by daycare employees, by internet and television, by mass-norms at school that are designed to also make them obedient and complacent workers and get to be just like mom and dad: workaholics by necessity, not by choice – or else, there is no guaranteed survival – this is the current violence we are inherently accepting in our everyday living, threatening each other’s life – we have to also recognize we’ve done this to ourselves by leaving the system in the hands of a few.
Nowadays I see the direct consequences where I live of how poverty affects families in a very pervasive manner. To me this place is ‘temporary,’ but for many it is the place and environment they are born into, it is the people they will marry and have their children with and also die in until the last days knowing to do nothing else but to work, drink every weekend, have ‘parties’ and pretend that life is fine while going back every Monday to earn the bread with the sweat of their brow the rest of the week, hoping for something or someone like a president to finally change their lives.
The frustration that parents create at work which is based on the threat of losing their job/not making enough money becomes the constant experience that parents then in turn become toward their children, toward their partners and so toward the world: a survivalist mentality that cannot be stable, here, present, enjoying life because of always being tensed, worried and anxious about getting the next paycheck to pay all the bills.
Come Worry With Us (2013)
We are all currently required to break our illusions behind the usual question of ‘who would you like to be when you grow up?’ and then growing up and realizing that was just a dream, a fantasy, an ideal promoted to us to keep us completely separated from acknowledging the reality: this current world-system is designed to keep dreams on heavy rotation, to keep fueling the hope, the illusions, the wishing and desiring for the most hedonist lifestyle possible, a promised reality that never seems to just manifest into reality and it won’t for sure – nor do I personally consider it should ever, unless we actually work on creating such stability for all and make it sustainable for every other living being in this planet: environment, animals, humans, everyone.
Efrim explains in the documentary how he is part of the last generation that was promised a great future and from there on, we all got the opposite. It’s true, the first year in literature school we got told we were not there to ‘be writers’ and be creative, but to learn the hard-knocks of the science of analyzing literature and how we would barely make a buck with that – in art school we got told the most debasing facts about the poverty-lifestyle one usually goes through when trying to ‘make a living as an artist’ grounding us on how we could not just expect to just ‘be famous’ and earn millions like Hirst overnight. It might seem like a cruel thing to do crushing young adults’ dreams, however it is also the stark nature of the reality we have created for each other.
From there I started questioning a lot about myself, my decision to be an artist – would I make it? What would I have to do to be as ‘big’ as x artist that I admired at the time? And I bet this goes on in the mind of every other person that is taught to aim at the highest peak in a world where the peak is already occupied and not available for everyone else.
Does it make sense to live this way? To know we have all of this great potential as human beings and the way we could actually change the entire nature of ourselves and our relationships with one another if we were able to provide us the guaranteed right to live in dignity, to have money to live well if you’d like to dedicate yourself to a non-lucrative profession or arts which is also not a secured ‘job position’ but is dependent on several subjectivities like being liked, being ‘good’ at the eyes of others, being able to relate well to people to make business; getting to be known and published if you are a musician or a writer, or being part of a gallery and not even that guarantees good wages any longer.
There is also the point of having children and how that becomes a new primary responsibility for adults where one has to choose between being a parent or being a professional, especially if one is a woman. As an artist, for example, there’s not been such great possibilities to have a breathable life in a world where no more records are being sold, where art is sold only to a few elites and that is a minority of course, where movies and music are being downloaded for free, where people cannot afford to go watch a play, concert or sometimes even go to the movies – instead, all that is promoted is more greed and illusions of power in national TV/ media at home which is still the one point that seems to define what people conceive ‘life’ to be as this idea of ‘fame and fortune’, hence the belief that every person in showbiz should do as well as people on TV – but they don’t, at least not the ones that try and make honest business.
Some of the artists I enjoy and admire in a way have been able to ‘stay true’ to themselves in a world-system where arts are also another industry and the same abusive policies apply as everywhere else. In this case, music is something that inspired me to begin questioning the system. I began painting while listening to Radiohead’s OK Computer on repeat mode and all their discography became a way to also understand the underlying suffering that I could perceive in everything and everyone but somehow wasn’t that evident to me until 11 years ago when I first began painting. Now it’s very clear to me how this change has to be implemented and I have a clarity to it, to the point where I’ve stopped painting the death and destruction on this world and instead started to investigate, educate myself and begin actively working to promote and establish solutions that not only will benefit artists of course, but that will be a living guarantee for every person that is currently unable to fend for themselves and as such have are unable to develop themselves to become the person they know they all can be. We cannot also continue having honest and principled individuals to ‘adjust’ and ‘align’ to the current skewed mentality of a dog-eat-dog world where worry, fear, stress and paranoia have become everyone’s daily chronic sickness, this is the abuse we are dictating upon each other and it makes no sense at all.
This is not the world I want to live in, this is not The Good Life that our parents were once able to have – and some of you younger than me reading this not that for sure – but we have to question why every year that goes by things get worse, wages don’t go up while inflation keeps going up and the majority of the wealth is stacked in the hands of the minority: this is a suicidal machine we are operating here, and we have to stop it before we all sink together in it.
I want the children of this world to be able to have parents that can be satisfied with what they do with their lives, that can have sufficient time at home or simply available to be with them without the stress, without the fears, without the depression, without the constant every day nagging thought of what if there is no money tomorrow that I can get today to keep feeding my family? This is the most stressful situation anyone can face: being broke, being homeless, being with exorbitant debts that are usually now even transferred from parents onto children to ensure that one can ‘own’ something in this world, yet this world as the Earth itself didn’t come with such instructions of ‘how to use it’: we created them but so we also live the problem, so we have to understand it and be able to create and propose solutions, which is what we should all focus on if we really want to keep having our joys in life, such as music for example in my case.
So, the least I can do to honor myself and those human beings that also see the necessity for change, that collaborate with creating awareness in their own ways such as with art and music and genuinely consider that we can all work together and make things work for everyone, is to dedicate myself and my life to promote the consideration and necessity that we have toward each other, the good life that I would like to give to those that have nurtured me either physically or as a living being in my ability to be inspired and influenced by people that were able to tell me through their words, their musical expression about everything that was wrong in this world, so that I could grow up to take the staff and be that person that they can also get inspiration from: becoming an individual that can promote and present solutions, because we’re all just too fed up to hear about the same problems and complains instead of realizing that through understanding the problem, we can and become aware of how we can make things work for everyone.
And for artists who I see are quite a lot within the realm of social-change and activism, thank you for your inspiration as well because sometimes one can get ‘lost’ in a sea of carelessness and hopelessness about being able to genuinely do any meaningful change in this world, but through our very own words, through the way we live and create, how we interact with others we can become the point of change that many others can then refer to as the proof of how we can direct our lives to a best for all outcome, which also determines how we live and interact with one another.
This principle of giving to others as I would like to receive begins within us, so let’s give the best we would want for ourselves to each other and through doing that, learning how to honor and truly appreciate our lives, instead of living as enemies in a chronic state of war.
Time to ‘be the change we want to see in this world’ for sure, but this will also only be fully possible when people are no longer strapped to their working chairs and fearing not having money the next day, therefore support the Living Income Guaranteed, to provide a guaranteed access to living needs when having no means to get an income, get higher wages in your current job/occupation and never again be ashamed of having to take this support as it is and will be our sheer right to life, to stop the paranoia, the fear and the self-abuse that comes when living in survival mode – we can do much better than this.
We are yet to discover who we all can be and become once that we step outside of the current divide and conquered set-up world-system we have (negligibly) created. It’s about time we join our creative efforts upon that which will ensure each other’s ability to create without worrying about money again, which tampers our creative potential.
Happiness does not exist yet, we have to construct it.
Suggested read for an in-depth review of the documentary:
- COME WORRY WITH US: THE ANXIETIES OF PARENTING AND EARNING A LIVING WITH THEE SILVER MOUNT ZION ORCHESTRA
- Read the Living Income Guaranteed Proposal to find out more on How it can be financed
- Read the Equal Life Foundation’s Bill of Rights: Our right to life can only be assured with money, and our Bill of Rights has a direct way to be financed with the provision of a Living Income.
- Watch our Equal Life’s Fundamental Human Rights presentation and share it around!
- Watch our weekly Live Google Hangouts on Living Income Guaranteed
- Living Income Guaranteed and Raising Children
- Parents Need a Living Income Now
398. The Act of Killing: Humanity’s Self-Reflection
We are all Anwar
No one really likes to recognize one’s own evil. We live in a mass hypnosis state where we have accepted things like poverty and war as ‘norms’ and ‘the way the world works’ without considering a possibility to change. We often blame a particular establishment, government, tyrant, economics, politics, culture and media for the continuation of the atrocities without a change in this world. What we tend to usually forget is that before any secret societies or secret cabals taking control of how the world works, there is and was only ourselves, human beings as the creators of all of the above and everything that we can possibly complain about as the ‘evils of the world.’
Fascinatingly enough what we have done is make of our evil something separate of ourselves that we tend to fetishize and fictionalize in, for example, Hollywood movies that glorify wars, mafias, creating the notion of super heroes that can suddenly overcome such evil but then even that idea of the good vs. evil and ‘the good side’ being triumphant is no longer something that is credible in this world. We haven’t really pondered what it takes to create this notion of ‘victory’ and how victory is actually defined by those that win, those that (w)right hi-story, their story to then present an act of killing as something that is glorifying, righteously defending ‘The Act of Killing’ as a justified means to ‘win’ a battle.
We would have to also ask ourselves if we have also come to admire villains for their ‘cunning ways’ to get things done their way. But when it comes to understanding Why we actually harm each other, and How we have come to make of such harm and abuse part of who we are in fact and the ways we justify it is, we don’t go far enough; we often only stick to ‘presenting the show’ which is what sells, what the entire Hollywood industry is founded upon – which is what we do within ourselves too: we see others as the problem, the ‘evil ones’ instead of being willing to look deep inside of ourselves and acknowledge the same problem exists within each one of us too.
Stepping aside from the massive Hollywood propaganda for films that instead of informing or supporting people to see ways in which we have to take responsibility and implement solutions in this world, there is also another type of film that makes us all question everything we have made ‘acceptable’ as a form of enter-tamement/ entertainment such as the voyeuristic ability to watch violence, abuse, harm and murder as part of ‘what happens in the movies’ and eventually, even coming to inspire real life murderers and crimes. Which one came first? One would ask. Yes, it is rather obvious by now that we haven’t evolved as species when we still rejoice in watching battles and wars with all the gore and perceive that as entertainment – gladiators at the coliseum 2.0 – which is also at the same time used as a way to create a normalcy in the act of killing, of murdering, torturing, abusing and have an entire political connotation to it which is what consecrates it at the eyes of world history.
The Act of Killing is as surreal as anyone like André Breton probably could have imagined surrealism to be defined by and it is probably the first time that watching a film can feel like a movie, only to remind myself that it is in fact a Documentary: a real life presentation where there are several production processes as attempts to recreate and mystify the massive killings in Indonesia in the 60’s and how nonchalantly the perpetrators of such killings decide to represent what they did as part of what they believe is an honorable duty they were a part of – or should we say were told they were doing as an honorable thing – showing the massive propaganda machine that must exist as a constant reinforcement to convince us to do something, to actually kill and torture and commit the most hideous crimes and believe this is something in the name of national defense, honor, respect – sounds familiar? Only every single time that any form of conflict between human beings or two factions leading to war is justified.
What would happen if we were able to stand as observers of our own mistakes, crimes, abuse toward ourselves and others? The Act of Killing by Joshua Oppenheimer is remarkable in the sense that he has produced a documentary here the film in itself becomes the platform for the perpetrators to direct their own vision, their own accounts of the killings and re-enact – in their own ‘influences and vision’ – their hideous crimes that they choose to not define as such, because to their eyes they did ‘the right thing’ and as such ‘winners get to choose what ‘war crimes’ are, which is also part of the fabricated truths and creeds that we use to keep ourselves always on the ‘winning score,’ even if it means making of the killings of thousands – or even millions – of people an act of honor, a ‘need,’ a ‘right thing to do’ and forgetting completely about who and what they are in fact doing which is killing another living human being, an equal to themselves.
Witnessing the self-revelation that comes to the protagonists of this documentary specifically when taking the role of their victim opens up a possibility to realize what they have really in fact done, what they have put others through and witnessing a genuine moment of having the killers place themselves in the shoes of the ones they tortured and killed: perhaps an opportunity to forgive themselves for what they have done.
I watched the documentary twice and when I was in the movies I had a knot in my throat specially when realizing how disconnected we have been to everything we watch in a film, especially killings, what it means to kill, how killing is justified but what is more astounding is the actual potential for self-evaluation of such acts as something that is certainly unacceptable in contradiction to how these killers were just told to be and do.
Second time that I watched it was one week ago and I ended up tweeting: we are all in fact Anwar because I could see that we rejoice in blaming people and seeing everyone else as ‘the evil ones’ and we haven’t yet recognized we are all in fact the abusers in this world that allow not only the act of killing but any form of evil as the reverse of life to become our self-religion: what is money in this world but the way to deny life to another if so we decide to do so through ‘laws’ and politics, economic plans and further excuses like races, nations, colors to just not see and realize each other as equals? Who we are if not exterminators in this reality when thousands of species are dying every single day for our sheer presence in this world? Do we ever place ourselves in the shoes of the air, the water, the animals, every single part of this world that we constantly abuse, kill and deplete every single day in the name of ‘our progress’ or our ‘victories’?
If anything this documentary allows us to step back and not only get to see first hand the mentality that has to be fabricated to ‘create a killer’ but to also take the point back at self when attempting to blame anyone for this, or see ‘Anwar’ and the rest of the killers as ‘the bad guys.’ I realize that everything that we’ve seen as this abject consequence of our self-abuse is our responsibility and as such I have nothing but gratitude for having the opportunity to watch this film and be able to cry like a baby at the end in Anwar’s vomiting scene, because I’ve also felt disgusted, sad and angry at myself for what we have done to this world and each other and so it was revealing being able to witness another human being going through that.
Even if I haven’t killed a human being in this lifetime, I am equally responsible for every single form of abuse that exists here, as we recognize we are all in fact one and equal – that’s our current Oneness and Equality – and there’s no way to escape this and this is one of the reasons why I am so committed to my process of self-change and self-responsibility, mostly to be able to shout out to the four winds : WE DID IT TO OURSELVES! LET’S STOP BLAMING FOR EARTH’S SAKE and instead FOCUS ON CHANGING OURSELVES to Prevent crimes and CREATE SOLUTIONS!
So, once we watch this cathartic process that this documentary The Act of Killing represents to every one of us as human beings, we can begin to Forgive ourselves for every single crime, abuse and atrocity we have perpetuated in the name of power, in the name of money, in the name of a god or a belief because we have all done this, then be willing to roll our sleeves up and focus on getting ourselves straight by first and foremost stopping the self-abuse within us because ‘wars’ and governments taking over and secret societies ruling millions of people is nothing else but the outflow of our own abdication of Self-Responsibility to oneself and one another. I say till here no further, we cannot go sponsoring death and destruction one more day in this world beginning the abuse at a thought and individual level we commit each day.
I stand up for Life in Equality and Self-Responsibility for the Crimes we have all committed against Life – AND please: do yourself a favor and watch this documentary, you can’t miss it.
Watch the Live Google Hangout where further details and explanations behind the documentary ‘The Act of Killing’ will be shared, along with the refreshing sense of Self-Responsibility that we have to what this documentary so vividly exposes to us.
Thanks to Joshua Oppenheimer for being such a kick ass film maker and creating this masterpiece that should be shown all over the world to become more aware of the most essential form of abuse we all commit in one way or another: the act of killing.
Investigate who we are as a group of people committed to take responsibility and prevent further abuse in this world:
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