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A Movie Review… “Outcasts” And True Social Justice

May 24, 2017 Featured Today No Comments

By REY FLORES

“A bold example of social justice in action” — Follow the cameras of Grassroots Films, the Award-Winning producers of The Human Experience and Child 31, on an unexpected journey across the globe. Travel to the prisons of Central America, walk the dark city streets of London, New York, and Ireland’s most treacherous neighborhoods. Step beyond your comfort zone and into the lives of our modern-day outcasts.

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I realize that the term social justice is anathema for some of us Catholics. It conjures up visions of leftist agitators worshipping at the low altar of Saul Alinsky and of inner-city parishes soiled by socialist community organizations and their misled organizers.
I have been a defender of the term “social justice” because I have seen the proper use of this term in action.
The word “social” refers to our society made up of people, human beings made in the image and likeness of our Lord Jesus Christ.
And who can be opposed to justice? After all, by its very definition justice means righteousness
Put the two words together and we are referring to the righteousness of people — people who are creations of God.
Outcasts is probably one of the best definitions of “social justice” I have ever seen, heard, watched, experienced, or was moved by. As someone who has defended the term “social justice” against those who misuse and abuse the term, or those who misunderstand it and condemn it, I am thrilled to have the term so accurately defined by this film.
Outcasts was released by Grassroots Films, an appropriate name for this media production company, given that we are talking about social justice. It was founded in 2006 and since has produced documentaries like the similarly inspiring Child 31.
Child 31 is a powerful documentary film released in 2012 which tells the story of Mary’s Meals, a charity which provides a life-changing meal to hungry children every school day in places like Malawi, India, and Kenya.
Outcasts is a powerful documentary about the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal traveling across the United States and the world to seek out “the least of my brothers” and to bring our Lord Jesus Christ and His Good News to them.
Filmed in a variety of locations and settings, Outcasts brings us to see many lives of despair, anguish, and pain. There are scenes of entire poverty-stricken communities picking through landfills for food or anything of potential value amongst dead animal carcasses, rotting food, and gut-wrenching waste of all types.
The film also takes us into the lives, or should I say the mere existences, of junkies here in our own cities. The hell of addiction is like no other for the human person and Outcasts certainly brings this evil to the viewer in its full nightmarish, yet hopeful, reality.
Men and women are bound by the shackles of addiction, their own sins, and by the sins of other men. It isn’t only the drug addicts or the landfill scavengers, but you and I who are addicted to perversions, prescription drugs, poisonous food and liquor and tobacco and sex and pornography — and in subtle ways, Outcasts also reminds us of this.
Jesus was an outcast. In this earthly realm, we are all outcasts. That is why we live to die: to reach His eternal Kingdom.
I think the best way I can describe this film is by using an adaptation of The Great Dictator speech, written by none other than comedian Charlie Chaplin back in 1940. It is also used in the trailer for Outcasts.
“I’m sorry. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible.
“We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.
“We don’t want to hate and despise one another. This world has room for everyone. Good and bad.
“It is rich, and can provide for everyone. The way of life could be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
“Machinery that gives us abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little.
“More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness, gentleness. Without these qualities life will be violent. All will be lost.
“Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world. Millions of despairing men, women, and children.
“Don’t give yourselves to brutes; men who despise you and slave you, who regiment your lives . . . tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder!
“You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men!
“In the 17th chapter of St. Luke it is written that the kingdom of God is within man. Not one man or a group of men, but in all men!”
While this is a powerful film, it is recommended for mature audiences only. It is not one for the kids.
The Outcasts documentary can be brought to your parishes Visit GrassrootsFilms.com to watch the trailer and to organize a screening in your parish.

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(Rey Flores is a Catholic writer and speaker and he reviews media for The Wanderer. Contact Rey at reyfloresusa@gmail.com.)

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