I just watched a movie that I am sure many of you would call “cheesy” at best. The movie is Monte Walsh, starring Tom Selleck and Keith Carradine. I actually really liked it and appreciated its message. For Monte (Tom Selleck), his way of life is disappearing, being absorbed and catabolized by the “modern mechanism” of “progress,” and as he struggles to come to grips with this change, there is something of his story that connects with me at a deep level. It would be easy to say that such “progress” is the problem, except for the fact that I am writing these thoughts one of those bits of technology resulting from such progress. Not to mention that such technologies have saved lives and provided for some amazing improvements. On the flip side, such technology has also cost lives and just may be part of a deep running disconnect in our modern life. We’ve come to love gadgets and have, quite possibly lost some of our humanity in the process (at least our abilities in human interaction).
It would also be easy to state the problem as a loss of values in the process of progress. That happens, but such a simplistic perspective produce argumentation that are “straw men”: easy to set up, easy to knock down. While straw men make us feel more secure, they don’t help us wrestle out change. There have been many improvements in “new modern” ideas. In the last 150 years we’ve recognized that women and minorities have been devalued and that our humanity runs deeper than gender or ethnicity. One could only hope that we’ll continue that trajectory and stop devaluing people based on their sexual preference, but that is a different article on a different day. Change over the last 150 years has at the same time, devalued our humanity in much larger ways. We’ve lost the ability to have face to face conversations, we prefer “texting” and “social networks.” We’ve bought into the capitalistic idea that money makes it all better, that corporations are there to help us and that government is out to get our money (interesting…).
Yet there is something to the message of this movie. I am not sure that I can articulate clearly the message of Monte Walsh, not sure that I even clearly understand it but I know that I feel it deeply within myself. That it resonates with loss that it in some way tangible to me, yet I know that it is not just that simple. It is similar to the sense I get when I watch “Dances with Wolves.” There is a connection a real part of ourselves that has been lost, and new parts of ourselves that we’ve discovered and will discover. Maybe life has just become more complicated, maybe I miss a perceived simplicity and slower pace of life that I perceive existed in the past. The problem is that I am here and now. So I continue to embark upon the path of seeking to reconnect and yet to press forward.