By Kristen Johnson
Urban decay, poverty, joblessness, homelessness, unions, access to healthcare and public transportation – all are covered in the moving and visually stunning documentary, Detropia. In a sort of Roger & Me update, it details the current bleak situation in the once great city of Detroit.
I was blessed to view the documentary Roger & Me during college (which likely prompted my first teeny-tiny babystep towards liberalism). Unfortunately, I would say that the situation in Detroit has not only not improved since the 1970s (when that documentary was done), but the situation has worsened.
Detropia is a bleak, compelling, and sobering look at Detroit as it remains today. Dozens and dozens of homes and buildings are being torn down day after day and those that remain are in complete disrepair and likely to be torn down any day. The population has dwindled at a shocking rate over the past decades. As the big automakers started shutting down factories and shipping the work to other countries, the city has suffered irreparably. People are jobless because there are no jobs to go to. Thinking about the beautiful metropolis that Detroit once was, to the jobless, dirty city that it is today should be a reminder to corporate America what their greed ultimately causes. Unfortunately, greed is greed and it seems that the rich corporations continue to get richer while the middle class workers who continue to make those corporations richer continue to suffer.
I think that the film maker intended to show the grit and determination of the people remaining in Detroit, but I found nothing but despair. What are people to do when there are no jobs? What are people to do when their neighborhoods are literally crumbling around them, the city is bankrupt, and the federal government doesn’t care? The answer is oftentimes to simply leave the city (which accounts for the dramatic population loss) and also to resort to gangs, drugs, and other criminal activities.
I don’t have all the answers and I don’t have a solution. All I know is that, as usual, I am angry with big corporations for their greed and I am angry, as usual, at the local and federal governments for continuing to make cuts to things like medical care, education, and social services. Why we continue to let the general public continue to suffer in places like Detroit is beyond comprehension.
I will continue to pray for our leaders (goodness knows they need it) and to pray for people in inner-cities like Detroit. I know that God is listening, and that Jesus loves the people of Detroit. I also know that it is my job to be the “hands” and “feet” of Jesus for these people until Jesus returns. I just don’t know how exactly to do that, other than to continue to fight corporate greed, to vote with my pocketbook by continuing to refuse to support corporations that abuse people, animals and the environment, and to continue to lobby and fight against a Republican-controlled Congress that continues to gut social programs.
Proverbs 31:8-9 (NRSV): Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute.[a] 9 Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
Serve all with love.
Photo courtesy of: stocksnap.io