On the Radar

What shocked me about the world as I knew it

Looking up into the open sky from a well

It was like a revelation. A shocker – my life as I had known it has been like a frog living at the bottom of the well.

The revelation came about thanks to Michael Moore’s heartful film Where to Invade Next.

He takes us on an ‘invasion’ to ‘steal’ the best ideas of ways of life from other countries.

Growing up in Hong Kong with access to information, learning amongst “great minds” in the US, and travelled a decent bit – I thought I had a fair understanding of the world.

It was not until Where to Invade Next that I realised I held a limiting perspective on how life can be.

Eye-opening ways of the world

In Norway, prisoners run their own prisons and even have keys to their own ‘cells.’

Meanwhile in Portugal, all recreational drugs are legal. And as a result of legalisation, drug-use actually dropped!

In France, children are served four-course meals at school everyday.

And in Finland, some of the high-scoring students in the world don’t grow up with homework or test-prep. The reason is something so simple, and has long-lasting ripple effects for the society.

So can these ideas be applied elsewhere?

It’s encouraging to see how there are other ways to run a society. But is it as simple as stealing the model and applying it elsewhere? Perhaps not.

The Head of the Health in Portugal cautioned that the drop in recreational drug use didn’t drop just because they legalised it. The made changes to the healthcare system and other policies.

Likewise, French children don’t enjoy four-course meals just because someone decided that they should eat better. Fundamentally, the French government saw meals as a class for learning. To learn serving each other, holding conversations, and enjoying food together. 

The nutritionist, chef, and district education personnel meet monthly to discuss school menus, making sure there is variety and balance. In French Children Don’t Throw Food, American author Pamela Drucker discovers the underlying ethos of school meals in France. For example, with a simple fruit like an apple, the school wants to introduce school children to an apple’s different textures and possibilities. So, the apple might appear on the menu in myriad forms: apple slices, apple sauce, baked in a pie, poached with toasted walnuts, or paired with cheeses. The aim is to introduce different tastes, textures and possibilities of the produce.

In Norway, at the prisons, even the high-security prisons, it was evident prisoners are treated as a human – Not cheap labour, not target for abuse. The prisoners get the support they need to get back on track. Which is a dichotomous contrast to why prisons are set up in most of the rest of the world isn’t it?

Aware of where we limit possibilities

My up-bringing, my schooling, and my choices had been limited to what I knew.

When we rely on social media to serve up news, or a service like Spotify to serve up music, it’s keeping us limited to what the AI or algorithms know we would respond to. It’s based on past history, rather than new exploration.

What’s cool about this film is that it goes against the grain. It recognises that the US has stuff to learn from other countries, and takes a humble look at how other countries view itself.

Where to Invade Next is an ode to human possibilities and offers a ladder out of the well into a wider world. A world where energies are channeled to ways that empower a life instead of wasted on battles.

The film was really fun to watch; so I leave you to explore.

Watch Where To Invade Next on MOVIEMOVIE On Demand in Hong Kong. In other countries, find it on iTunes, Amazon and on Netflix.

Food for thought

  • The CEO of Ducati said, “There is no clash between the profits of the company and the well-being of the people.” What would it take for businesses to be like Ducati?
  • One Icelandic businesswoman said she wouldn’t want to live in the US even if she was paid to live there. In light of how Americans treat one another and people turn a blind eye to how neighbors are being treated. Is there anything valuable to “steal” from the US?

Follow Michael Moore @MMFlint on Twitter. #empoweringall #livebetter #alllives