Thursday, June 30, 2005

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

There's a new program on the FX (that's FX not FOX) channel titled appropriately, 30 Days . The idea is the brainchild of Morgan Spurlock,a shaggy documentarian. His biker mustache and hound-dog demeanor play down his indie-film credentials: he could easily have turned into last year's pet for Sundance snobs. But Mr. Spurlock still displays middle-brow appetites and he infuses the weekly civics lessons of "30 Days" with his own brand of goodwill.

The first three episodes put Average Joes through role-playing exercises, with Mr. Spurlock participating as narrator or, sometimes, guinea pig. That was his role in ''Super Size Me,'' when he ate a month of unhappy meals in an experimental fast-food-only diet. During that time his sunny demeanor turned overcast and his body turned into something subtly but profoundly different: pallid, sweaty, lethargic.

Last nights episode took an average Joe and transported him from the hollers of West Virginia to the mosques of Dearborn, Mich. This seemingly devout Christian confronts his bigotry by taking a crash course in the Koran, and then sorts through all-too-common misimpressions about Islam in the age of antiterrorist fervor. The visitor is rigid and fearful, until eventually ignorance gives way to respect.
I started watching more out of boredom than interest, but after the first 10 minutes I found myself watching adamantly to see what would happen next. The insights are astounding and disturbing.
I was surprised, by how normal the Muslims were. Their homes, their lives, even their religion. They are a devout people but very human, and not at all the way the media makes them appear.
If you get the opportunity you really should check this one out. Who knows we might actually learn that Muslims much like Christians are just ordinary people. Those who would harm others are a small radical sect, just like our own pseudo-christians. We might just find out it's harder to judge people once you get to know what they're really like. Which could lead to, oh who know, learning to live with our fellow man in peace and harmony.


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