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North Country

Charlize Theron captures more than the anger and frustration caused by harrassment – you sense her genuine confusion: Why can’t I be allowed to work and live in peace if I do my job as well as the men?

North Country does occasionally slip into “one (wo)man against the world” triteness, but it is a rousing film. Every generation needs one of these. We often forget the battles that have been necessary to create opportunity for women or other groups that were traditionally disenfranchised.

Iron-Jawed Angels is another powerful example – it was made for HBO but is now available on DVD. Iron-Jawed Angels follows the story of suffragettes fighting for the right of women to vote. Remember, it hasn’t even been 100 years since women in this country had this right.

These types of films remind us that among millions of people there is often a rare individual who faces fear, intimidation, and even the threat of death to challenge inequities and change society. I often feel a little embarrassed by just how courageous some can be – it isn’t easy to alienate friends, family, and neighbors to push for what is right.

The death of Rosa Parks reminds me of this too – often one person can become symbolic of a struggle and galvanize a movement. A simple act that challenges the status quo can transform the society. A book like

Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” pushed the government to investigate the meat-packing industry and even changed food laws in America.
We should all be grateful for the courageous few who are willing to incur the wrath of their countryman because what is right is right.
Without them we would still have dangerous factories and mines and ruthless child labor, women wouldn’t be allowed to vote or get decent jobs, African Americans would still be sitting on the back of the bus, and 1776 would be just another date in history. There is nothing so powerful as righteous anger put to good purpose.

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