Monday, November 30, 2015

For the Holidays

Do no harm.  It really is that simple.

In the aftermath of the tragic events this year in Paris, Beirut, Nigeria, Colorado Springs, Charleston and so many other places, it’s natural to be wracked with emotions, questions and declarations.  Madmen wielding weapons and killing people is damaging not only to peace on earth, but to peace of mind.  These destructive acts harm our global psyche along with the people, the real estate and the planet itself; the attacks thus reach far beyond the cities where they occur. 

In that light, after the shock and outrage pass and allow us to mourn, we must choose wisely in our next step.  We must unite with wisdom and care, for our best hope is to work together and let rational thinking lead us toward answers to both causes and courses of prudent action. 

It is not so great a task to discover the causes.  In fact, we know them already; they are age old issues.  The difficulty is resolving them.  How do we stop people from supporting inhumane ideas simply because said ideas are found in a religious text?  How do we stop the cycle of racist teachings and attitudes?  How do we turn suspicion and vilification of those who are different from us to acceptance and respect?

It is a misguided mindset that buys into a belief or a belief system that devalues other people and promotes doing them harm.  Harming other people is never a constructive step toward achieving anything.  It does not lead to redemption or salvation of souls; it does not provide assuagement or appeasement of aches or damages; it does not prove strength or honor.

The sane world understands this.  When these tragedies occur, people come together to help each other through the grief; that’s where true strength is.  They decry the killing; that’s where true honor is.  The world mourns with each besieged city, but the world goes on, further united against acts of terror; that’s where true salvation lies.  The terrorists—whether organized groups or lone gunmen—win no advancement in their cause; if anything, they move us one step closer to ending their ability to attack again.  For the world will be that much more ready and willing to loudly and clearly separate itself from those who have no regard for human life. 

But how do we achieve that goal?  We know that anger and aggression incite more of the same; that violence begets violence; that war kills innocent people as much as or worse than any act of terror.  So what do we do?  Use our strength in numbers.  Most of the world wants to live in peace.  We must then pursue that peace openly, nurture and spread it daily by teaching tolerance, temperance and love through our words and actions—for every heart we reach broadens our family exponentially into a global community that will outlast every terrorist.  
Peace on earth is ours, if we work for it.  We have only to care for each other: to care for our global family, regardless of race or religion, creed or color, orientation or anything else.   We who value life are one.  And, together, we are strong.

But we must do no harm.  If you give one gift this holiday season, let it be that message.

                        *                  *                  *                  *

What can I do right now to make the world a better place?

Blood.  Money.  Time.  Whatever and wherever you can, find a way to help those in need.  You’ll do them and yourself a world of good.  Charity and caring begins with every one of us…and we all need help from time to time.

Hold the door.  Smile more.  Say "hello".  Give up your seat on the bus.  There are endless things you can do that cost nothing and remind people that kindness exists and is wonderful.

Get a hybrid car.  An electric car.  Even a smaller regular car that uses less gas.  Walk more.  Fossil fuel fumes poison us all.  Let’s end the trend of SUVs.  Bigger is not better.

You’re harming yourself and everyone around you by spreading carcinogens into our air.  There's no excuse.  Stop now.

Do they harm others?  Do they deny people equal rights?  Equal pay?  Access to medical care?  Do they denigrate or devalue people simply for their lineage, station or lifestyle?  If so, I beg you to renounce those beliefs.  They are unkind at least, if not inhumane.

Don't rush to respond.  Speak only good.  If you have the education and authority to provide constructive criticism, do it with kindness and the goal of enlightenment, not chastisement.

Have more good ideas to add to this list?  Leave them in the comments!  Let’s all take an active part in making this world a better place!

Monday, November 2, 2015

What’s so FANtastic?

The Second Annual FANtastic Horror Film Festival took place this past weekend and I can say there were many positive things about the experience this time around.

First of all, HE WAITS screened and was very warmly received.  Among the positive feedback, I had people tell me they thought it deserved to be made into a feature, that it should be used as a PSA (you have to see the film to know why) and that, as the lead, I was incredibly creepy (which is a compliment, in this case, as the titular “He” has nefarious intentions that remain unnervingly undefined—a bold choice by filmmakers Sam Ghazi and Cheryl Compton).  When a film under ten minutes has that kind of effect on an audience, you know it’s working.
Second, I was honored with an award for winning the screenplay competition with my script for GARDEN PARTY MASSACRE. I had just completed principal photography on the film and here it was getting an award already.  I can’t say that wasn’t a warm fuzzy and I hope it’s a sign of things to come.
But most important—and the best thing about the festival—are the people.  So many talented and genuinely lovely people attend this festival.  The mad duo of John Iwasz and Sanj Surati, the debonair David Rountree, the spirited and lovely Tiffany Fest and Sheri Davis, the wise and wonderful Patty Sharkey, the ever elegant Lynn Lowry, my man Bill Oberst, Jr. and so many others I consider friends.  Rookies and veterans all gathered in a truly supportive and familial spirit.  Many thanks to festival directors JoAnne and Mike Thomas for being the key influential part of making this festival not so much a competition, but a celebration.  Because we are family.
And that’s what’s so FANtastic.
Bill Oberst, Jr. and I in creepy shadows
on the (blood) red carpet.