Feminism must be banished to save the family

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How feminists tried to destroy the family | Daily Mail Online

How feminists tried to destroy the family

Last updated at 23:19 22 January 2007

Erin Pizzey, founder of the battered wives’ refuge, on how militant feminists – with the collusion of Labour’s leading women – hijacked her cause and used it to try to demonise all men.

During 1970, I was a young housewife with a husband, two children, two dogs and a cat. We lived in Hammersmith, West London, and I didn’t see much of my husband because he worked for TV’s Nationwide. I was lonely and isolated, and longed for something other than the usual cooking, cleaning and housework to enter my life.

By the early Seventies, a new movement for women – demanding equality and rights – began to make headlines in the daily newspapers. Among the jargon, I read the words “solidarity” and “support”. I passionately believed that women would no longer find themselves isolated from each other, and in the future could unite to change our society for the better.

Within a few days I had the address of a local group in Chiswick, and I was on my way to join the Women’s Liberation Movement. I was asked to pay £3 and ten shillings as a joining fee, told to call other women “sisters” and that our meetings were to be called “collectives”.

My fascination with this new movement lasted only a few months. At the huge “collectives”, I heard shrill women preaching hatred of the family. They said the family was not a safe place for women and children. I was horrified at their virulence and violent tendencies. I stood on the same platforms trying to reason with the leading lights of this new organisation.

I ended up being thrown out by the movement. My crime was to warn some of the women working in the Women’s Liberation Movement office off Shaftesbury Avenue that if it persisted in cooperating with a plan to bomb Biba, a fashionable clothes shop in Kensington, I would call the police.

Biba was bombed because the women’s movement thought it was a capitalist enterprise devoted to sexualising women’s bodies.

I decided that I was wasting my time trying to influence what, to my mind, was a Marxist/ feminist movement touting for money from gullible women like myself.

By that time, I’d met a small group of women in my area who agreed with me. We persuaded Hounslow council to give us a tiny house in Belmont Terrace in Chiswick. We had two rooms upstairs, two rooms downstairs, a kitchen and an outside lavatory. We installed a telephone and typewriter, and we were in business.

Every day after dropping my children at school, I went to our little house, which we called the Women’s Aid. Soon women from all over Chiswick were coming to ask for help. At last we had somewhere women could meet each other and bring their children. My long, lonely days were over.

But then something happened that made me understand that our role was going to be more than just a forum where women could exchange ideas. One day, a lady came in to see us. She took off her jersey, and we saw that she was bruised and swollen across her breasts and back. Her husband had taken a chair leg to her. She looked at me and said: “No one will help me.”

For a moment I was somersaulted back in time. I was six years old, standing in front of a teacher at school. My legs were striped and bleeding from a whipping I had received from an ironing cord. “My mother did this to me last night,” I said. “No wonder,” replied the teacher. “‘You’re a dreadful child.”

No one would help me then and nobody would ever imagine that my beautiful, rich mother – who was married to a diplomat – could be a violent abuser.

Until that moment 35 years later, I had buried my past and assumed that because we had social workers, probation officers, doctors, hospitals and solicitors, victims of violence had enough help.

I quickly discovered, as battered women with their children poured into the house, that whatever was going on behind other people’s front doors was seen as nobody else’s business.

If someone was beaten up on the street, it was a criminal offence; the same beating behind a closed door was called “a domestic”‘ and the police had no rights or power to interfere.

The shocking fact for me was that there had been a deafening silence on the subject of domestic violence.

All the social agencies knew about domestic violence, but nobody talked about it. I searched for literature to help me understand this epidemic, but there was nothing to read except a few articles on child abuse in medical journals.

So in 1974 I decided to write Scream Quietly Or The Neighbours Will Hear, the first book in the world on domestic violence. I revealed that women and children were being abused in their own homes and they couldn’t escape because the law wouldn’t protect them.

If a husband claimed he would have his wife back, she couldn’t claim any money from the Department of Health and Social Security, and social services could only offer to take the children into care.

Meanwhile, our little house was packed with women fleeing their violent partners – sometimes as many as 56 mothers and children in four rooms. All had terrible stories, but I recognised almost immediately that not all the women were innocent. Some were as violent as the men, and violent towards their children.

The social workers involved with these women told me I was wasting my time because the women would only return to their partners.

I was determined to try to break the chain of violence. But as the local newspaper picked up the story of our house, I grew worried about a very different threat.

I knew that the radical feminist movement was running out of national support because more sensible women had shunned their anti-male, anti-family agenda. Not only were they looking for a cause, they also wanted money.

In 1974, the women living in my refuge organised a meeting in our local church hall to encourage other groups to open refuges across the country.

We were astonished and frightened that many of the radical lesbian and feminist activists that I had seen in the collectives attended. They began to vote themselves into a national movement across the country.

After a stormy argument, I left the hall with my abused mothers – and what I had most feared happened.

In a matter of months, the feminist movement hijacked the domestic violence movement, not just in Britain, but internationally.

Our grant was given to them and they had a legitimate reason to hate and blame all men. They came out with sweeping statements which were as biased as they were ignorant. “All women are innocent victims of men’s violence,” they declared.

They opened most of the refuges in the country and banned men from working in them or sitting on their governing committees.

Women with alcohol or drug problems were refused admittance, as were boys over 12 years old. Refuges that let men work there were refused affiliation.

Our group in Chiswick worked with as many refuges as we could. Good, caring women still work in refuges across the country, but many women working in the feminist refuges, about 350, admit they are failing women who most need them.

With the first donation we received in 1972, we employed a male playgroup leader because we felt our children needed the experience of good, gentle men. We devised a treatment programme for women who recognised that they, too, were violent and dysfunctional. And we concentrated on children hurt by violence and sexual abuse.

Yet the feminist refuges continued to create training programmes that described only male violence against women. Slowly, the police and other organisations were brainwashed into ignoring the research that was proving men could also be victims.

Despite attacks in the Press from feminist journalists and threatening anonymous telephone calls, I continued to argue that violence was a learned pattern of behaviour from early childhood.

When, in the mid-Eighties, I published Prone To Violence, about my work with violence-prone women and their children, I was picketed by hundreds of women from feminist refuges, holding placards which read: “All men are bastards” and “All men are rapists”.

Because of violent threats, I had to have a police escort around the country.

It was bad enough that this relatively small group of women was influencing social workers and police. But I became aware of a far more insidious development in the form of public policy-making by powerful women, which was creating a poisonous attitude towards men.

In 1990, Harriet Harman (who became a Cabinet minister), Anna Coote (who became an adviser to Labour’s Minister for Women) and Patricia Hewitt (yes, she’s in the Labour Cabinet, too!) expressed their beliefs in a social policy paper called The Family Way.

It said: “It cannot be assumed that men are bound to be an asset to family life, or that the presence of fathers in families is necessarily a means to social harmony and cohesion.”

It was a staggering attack on men and their role in modern life.

Hewitt, in a book by Geoff Dench called Transforming Men published in 1995, said: “But if we want fathers to play a full role in their children’s lives, then we need to bring men into the playgroups and nurseries and the schools. And here, of course, we hit the immediate difficulty of whether we can trust men with children.”

In 1998, however, the Home Office published a historic study which stipulated that men as well as women could be victims of domestic violence.

With that report in my hand, I tried to reason with Joan Ruddock, who was then Minister for Women. The figures for battered men were “minuscule” she insisted and she continued to refer to men only as “perpetrators”.

For nearly four decades, these pernicious attitudes towards family life, fathers and boys have permeated the thinking of our society to such an extent that male teachers and carers are now afraid to touch or cuddle children.

Men can be accused of violence towards their partners and sexual abuse without evidence. Courts discriminate against fathers and refuse to allow them access to their children on the whims of vicious partners.

Of course, there are dangerous men who manipulate the court systems and social services to persecute their partners and children. But by blaming all men, we have diluted the focus on this minority of men and pushed aside the many men who would be willing to work with women towards solutions.

I believe that the feminist movement envisaged a new Utopia that depended upon destroying family life. In the new century, so their credo ran, the family unit will consist of only women and their children. Fathers are dispensable. And all that was yoked – unforgivably – to the debate about domestic violence.

To my mind, it has never been a gender issue – those exposed to violence in early childhood often grow up to repeat what they have learned, regardless of whether they are girls or boys.

I look back with sadness to my young self and my vision that there could be places where people – men, women and children who have suffered physical and sexual abuse – could find help, and if they were violent could be given a second chance to learn to live peacefully.

I believe that vision was hijacked by vengeful women who have ghetto-ised the refuge movement and used it to persecute men. Surely the time has come to challenge this evil ideology and insist that men take their rightful place in the refuge movement.

We need an inclusive movement that offers support to everyone that needs it. As for me – I will always continue to work with anyone who needs my help or can help others – and yes, that includes men.

A Fathers Rights

OUR CHILDREN ASK QUESTIONS SEEKING ANSWERS; BUT NO JUDGE CAN HEAR THEM: WHY?
Reform to equate automatically to 50% paternal rights, or as otherwise can be extracted from DNA evidence no VRO DVO required automated system to target breaches of that law

Published on Jun 13, 2014

An un-wed father struggles and fights the system to see his child. Based on a true story.

Labor promises specialist domestic violence courts if elected

October 12, 2014

Kirsty Needham State Political Editor

EXCLUSIVE

A specialist court for domestic violence and sexual assault cases would be established by a NSW Labor government, deputy opposition leader Linda Burney will announce on Sunday.

The election commitment aims to reduce the trauma experienced by victims going to court by employing specialist judges and lawyers, designing courtrooms to ensure safety and privacy, and allowing victims to give evidence remotely.

Labor has committed to trials in metropolitan Sydney, Wollongong and the Hunter.

“We have a massive under-reporting rate in sexual assault, and half the conviction rate of any other area of criminality,” Karen Willis, executive officer of Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia, said.

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Ms Willis undertook a Churchill Fellowship to study the operation of specialist domestic violence courts in Canada, South Africa, Britain and the United States. She believes this approach could increase the reporting of assaults and conviction rates in Australia.

Delays in reporting a sexual assault in NSW are often interpreted by courts as “making up a story”.

“We know with trauma, that victims go numb and shut down,” she said.

Ms Willis says  70 per cent of sexual assaults are committed by a friend, family member or colleague, and a third in a social setting, such as a date. Because of this, grooming tactics used by offenders prior to an attack should also be examined in court.

“There needs to be a rethink of how these crimes are prosecuted, what evidence is provided and what the jury considers. The best way to do this is a specialist court,” Ms Willis said.

Ms Burney said domestic violence was a national crisis and the rate of these assaults was rising in NSW, reaching 27,000 last year – or 74 a day.

“Labor will make reducing domestic violence a top priority in government, and this includes protecting and supporting victims and bringing perpetrators to justice as quickly as possible and in a way which minimises trauma to the victim,” she said.

Labor’s women’s spokeswoman Sophie Cotsis said every woman and child had the right to be safe in their own home: “Many other jurisdictions around the world have different specialist domestic violence and sexual assault courts operating at the moment – we need to see this implemented in NSW.”

In South Africa, magistrates undergo specialist training to sit on sexual assault courts where victims can give evidence by CCTV, the court is closed for cross examination and there are separate waiting rooms and entries for the accused and the victim.

There are 200 specialist courts in the US, 100 in Britain and 50 in Canada. Labor wants an expert committee to determine the best model for a domestic violence and sexual assault court in NSW.

Specialist courts for drug-related crime have been used in NSW for 15 years, with research showing people sentenced through these courts less likely to reoffend.

The Hunter recorded 2700 cases of domestic violence and 1100 sexual or indecent assaults in the past year.

The Illawarra recorded 1043 domestic violence cases and 450 sexual or indecent assaults.

Ms Willis said that, instead of prison sentences, a “more clever” approach to preventing repeat offences would be court-mandated behaviour change programs.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/labor-promises-specialist-domestic-violence-courts-if-elected-20141011-114mpz.html#ixzz3FzqxzfQ3

16th National Family Law Conference in October 2014.

 Family Law: Evolution or Revolution

Welcome to Sydney

Sydney plays host to the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia’s 16th National Family Law Conference in October 2014.

The National Family Law Conference is the leading and largest regular legal event held in Australia. The host city of Sydney welcomes delegates to enjoy its inspiring location, magnificent beaches, iconic venues, landmark attractions and cultural events.

The Sydney 2014 Conference will offer not only an outstanding collection of speakers from Australia and overseas, but will introduce a dynamic format aimed at encouraging the exchange of ideas and increasing the level of interaction between presenters and the audience.

The Conference theme is “Family Law – Evolution or Revolution”. With the assistance of our National Advisory Board, the organising committee has developed a program that will benefit and challenge all delegates, regardless of their experience or type of practice. Sessions will cover the most up to date developments in the law, practical issues for Family Lawyers, and input from other disciplines as well as examining how our system can be improved and how those who interact with it can foster change.

The local organising committee is under the co-chairmanship of Michael Kearney SC and Paul Doolan. Together with the assistance of their hardworking committee, they promise not only an outstanding professional program, but an exciting series of social events and family activities to ensure an opportunity to renew old acquaintances and foster new bonds with colleagues.

We look forward to seeing you in Sydney in 2014.

 

Rick O’Brien
Chair
Family Law Section
Law Council Australia

 

Father shot dead after standoff with police at Inala in Brisbane’s southwest

THE gunman who was shot dead after a lengthy stand-off in Brisbane on Monday has been remembered as a doting father and hard worker who “struggled” with life.

Shaun Kumeroa, 42,was shot dead after emerging from a car with a gun during a four-hour siege at Inala.

Friends and family said he would be missed and they were in shock after his dramatic death.

“He was certainly a nice guy (but) like anybody had his problems. He had some personal issues,’’ one relative, who did not want to be named, said.

Mr Kumeroa, who had been living on Chevron Island on the Gold Coast, recently split from his partner and was missing their young daughter.

Police spent almost four hours negotiating with Mr Kumeroa, who was armed with a handgun and had refused to get out of a car parked at an Inala unit block Monday afternoon.

Shaun Kumeroa died in a siege at Inala on Monday.

Shaun Kumeroa died in a siege at Inala on Monday.

When he did suddenly emerge from the car he appeared to raise his gun infront of police before being shot several times.

Shelly Redding and her partner Nigel Butkowski were in their townhouse when the drama unfolded in the car park of their complex.

Mr Butkowski briefly spoke to Mr Kumeroa from his bedroom window on the second floor of his home and tried to calm him down.

He said at one moment he made eye contact with him from about 20m away.

“I said ‘don’t do it mate, don’t do it’,” Mr Butkowski said.

Shaun Kumeroa emerges from a car with a handgun moments before being shot dead. Pic: Chan

Shaun Kumeroa emerges from a car with a handgun moments before being shot dead. Pic: Channel Nine Brisbane

“He wasn’t erratic, he was basically sitting there looking straight ahead.

“In a few hours I only saw a couple of dozen moves.”

The couple said they stayed in the house about three hours before an officer told them they were in the line of fire and SERT evacuated them after climbing over their back fence.

“They were saying to him ‘get out, get out, drop all weapons,” Ms Redding said.

“‘Get out of the car and put your hands on your head’.”

SERT officers stand watch as paramedics tend to the shot man. Pic: Liam Kidston

SERT officers stand watch as paramedics tend to the shot man. Pic: Liam Kidston

She said they understood the man told police he had been trying to see his daughter but was unable to.

“The policeman said they would ring (his daughter) for him,” Ms Redding said.

When they rolled water to him she said he replied: “He said you could have brought it down I’m not going to shoot anyone.”

The couple were evacuated about 30 minutes before he was shot.

“You could see straight away he wasn’t in his right mind,” Ms Redding said

“After all the hours he was slumped back on the car seat.

“He must have been coming down … and thought ‘Gee, oh my God, what have I done’.

“And it was way too late.”

Eearlier

OFFICERS had no choice but to shoot a gunman after a lengthy stand-off in Brisbane, the Queensland Police Union says.

Police spent almost four hours negotiating with the man, who was armed with a handgun and refused to get out of a car that was parked at an Inala unit block on Monday.

Officers shot dead the 42-year-old when he threatened police.

Reports that he’d pointed his weapon at officers are expected to form part of an investigation by the ethical standards command.

A report is also being prepared for the coroner.

Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said the officers appeared to have no choice and were acting in self defence.

“That is the difficult and dangerous nature of police work.

“Things happen so quickly. You have to make instantaneous decisions, there are no other options,” he told ABC radio.

He said the officers involved would be having a difficult time, and the union would support them, including through the ethical standards investigation.

“I can say when you’ve used force, and things have changed dramatically, you never get over it. You have to learn to live with it and it is not easy.”

OVERNIGHT

The Courier-Mail reported heavily armed police called to a “drug deal gone wrong’’ shot dead a man after he pulled a gun on them after a four-hour siege at Inala in Brisbane’s southwest.

Specialised SERT officers surrounded the man, using the heavily armoured BearCat vehicle for cover as he held them at bay from the front seat of a car.

Attempts to negotiate with the man broke down when he suddenly got out of the vehicle and pointed what appeared to be a handgun at the officers.

Live-streamed footage from television helicopters captured the shooting, which is now subject to an internal Ethical Standards Command investigation.

“It all changed so quick,” said Chris Polson, who watched it unfold.

“(It) was all calm, then all of a sudden the guy got out of his car.”

A resident from the Gannet St apartment block said he was working on his car when he saw police arrive.

“Four policemen got out, went in, went around to where the car was sitting,” he said.

“They saw a gun and said ‘gun, gun, gun, drop the gun, drop the gun, drop the gun’. I got my little arse around behind the car. Then everything broke loose from there.”

The resident of the seven-unit complex said he heard five shots.

Police arrived at the units about noon and were attempting to speak to the man when he produced what appeared to be a handgun.

An area of the suburb was put into lockdown.

Gannet St, Inala

SERT officers arrived with the armoured vehicle and parked it alongside the man’s car, keeping automatic weapons drawn on him throughout the incident.

The officers could be seen surrounding the man, two of them perched on the bonnet of the BearCat.

Residents were told to stay indoors as the agitated man remained in his vehicle.

SERT officers debrief after the incident. Pic: Liam Kidston

SERT officers debrief after the incident. Pic: Liam Kidston

Police attempted to calm the 42-year-old, giving him a mobile phone so he could speak to a police negotiator and tossing him a bottle of water as the seige continued.

But shortly before 4pm, the man, who could be seen moving back and forth in his seat, suddenly emerged from the car with the gun.

“I can confirm … a male person has been shot. Unfortunately that person is deceased. The police Ethical Standards Command are investigating that incident and the matter will be put before the coroner,’’ Inspector Richard Kroon said.

“We were hopeful that this would be a peaceful resolution – that’s what we always strive to achieve and unfortunately this matter hasn’t turned out that way.”

Police move into position at the height of the siege. Pic: Liam Kidston

Police move into position at the height of the siege. Pic: Liam Kidston

Police, then paramedics worked on the man but he died at the scene.

“It’s a bit of a reminder about what police can encounter on any day,” Insp Kroon said.

The man was not a resident of the unit complex but was known to frequent the area.

The tragic incident coincided with National Police Remembrance Day, and Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers said it was a poignant reminder of what it meant to be a police officer.

He said the incident demonstrated the unpredictable nature of police work and the real threat that could occur while police were protecting the community.

Families are at risk from our Family Court ‘industry’

Insipid Evil in Our Family Courts PLEASE FORWARD Can everyone email this petition to Senator.Madigan@aph.gov.au george.christensen.mp@aph.gov.au
So much corruption in the public services thousands of lawyers and psychologists who live off prolonging conflict in family court cases,
21 DEATHS PER WEEK,
costing us billions Please sign, like and click share … The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new” -Socrates
1. 50 / 50 Shared care
2. No secret gags laws 121fla
3. Juries in family court appeals
4. Review judge for misbehaviour and incapacity
We need to get juries into these secret inhuman unlawful corrupt Australian Family courts, with no peer review or public scrutiny, mass fraud.
$21,000,000,000 Billion Dollar AUD PA 100,000 LAWYERS, BARBARISUM NO RULE OF LAW it is literally the Manson family on $21,000,000,000. Billion Dollar organised crime spree by way of fraud on steroids, in full knowledge, consent and facilitated by the judiciary.
This Is a shot long time coming, we need all the support we can muster, please leave a comments as well.
All Lawyers and judges including attorney generals are well aware secret courts with no juries are designed for ambushing the public, proving they are not interested in children or law only egocentric profits from slandering their victims.
The only reason why the court are deliberately secret and with no juries to hide the absolute corruption, exploitation unlawful abuses of our children and their rights.
They are doing so much damage to children, families over decades at the public and nation expense.
Look around the world today [birds of a feather] Dianna Bryant is running an oppressive regime as is Kim Jong-un’s regime, Bashar al-Assad regime, the examples of inhuman regimes are endless.
They are incapable of humanity, is why democracy works, and juries, neutralises these nasty packs of animals …
When the time comes we will print it make a book and hand it to the senator.
https://www.causes.com/campaigns/75585-open-jury-trials-in-australian-family-courts

Families are at risk from our Family Court ‘industry’

PLEASE FORWARD Can everyone email this petition to Senator.Madigan@aph.gov.au george.christensen.mp@aph.gov.au
So much corruption in the public services thousands of lawyers and psychologists who live off prolonging conflict in family court cases,
21 DEATHS PER WEEK,
costing us billions Please sign, like and click share … The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but building the new” -Socrates
1. 50 / 50 Shared care
2. No secret gags laws 121fla
3. Juries in family court appeals
4. Review judge for misbehaviour and incapacity
We need to get juries into these secret inhuman unlawful corrupt Australian Family courts, with no peer review or public scrutiny, mass fraud.
$21,000,000,000 Billion Dollar AUD PA 100,000 LAWYERS, BARBARISUM NO RULE OF LAW it is literally the Manson family on $21,000,000,000. Billion Dollar organised crime spree by way of fraud on steroids, in full knowledge, consent and facilitated by the judiciary.
This Is a shot long time coming, we need all the support we can muster, please leave a comments as well.
All Lawyers and judges including attorney generals are well aware secret courts with no juries are designed for ambushing the public, proving they are not interested in children or law only egocentric profits from slandering their victims.
The only reason why the court are deliberately secret and with no juries to hide the absolute corruption, exploitation unlawful abuses of our children and their rights.
They are doing so much damage to children, families over decades at the public and nation expense.
Look around the world today [birds of a feather] Dianna Bryant is running an oppressive regime as is Kim Jong-un’s regime, Bashar al-Assad regime, the examples of inhuman regimes are endless.
They are incapable of humanity, is why democracy works, and juries, neutralises these nasty packs of animals …
When the time comes we will print it make a book and hand it to the senator.
https://www.causes.com/campaigns/75585-open-jury-trials-in-australian-family-courts

I AM

I AM is an utterly engaging and entertaining non-fiction film that poses two practical and provocative questions: what’s wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better?   The filmmaker behind the inquiry is Tom Shadyac, one of Hollywood’s leading comedy practitioners and the creative force behind such blockbusters as “Ace Ventura,” “Liar Liar,” “The Nutty Professor,” and “Bruce Almighty.”   However, in I AM, Shadyac steps in front of the camera to recount what happened to him after a cycling accident left him incapacitated, possibly for good. Though he ultimately recovered, he emerged with a new sense of purpose, determined to share his own awakening to his prior life of excess and greed, and to investigate how he as an individual, and we as a race, could improve the way we live and walk in the world.

Armed with nothing but his innate curiosity and a small crew to film his adventures, Shadyac set out on a twenty-first century quest for enlightenment.  Meeting with a variety of thinkers and doers–remarkable men and women from the worlds of science, philosophy, academia, and faith–including such luminaries as David Suzuki, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lynne McTaggart, Ray Anderson, John Francis, Coleman Barks, and Marc Ian Barasch –  Shadyac appears on-screen as character, commentator, guide, and even, at times, guinea pig. An irrepressible “Everyman” who asks tough questions, but offers no easy answers, he takes the audience to places it has never been before, and presents even familiar phenomena in completely new and different ways.  The result is a fresh, energetic, and life-affirming film that challenges our preconceptions about human behavior while simultaneously celebrating the indomitable human spirit.

The pursuit of truth has been a lifelong passion for Shadyac. “As early as I can remember I simply wanted to know what was true,” he recalls, “and somehow I perceived at a very early age that what I was being taught was not the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”  He humorously describes himself as “questioning and searching and stumbling and fumbling toward the light.”  The “truth” may have been elusive, but success wasn’t.  Shadyac’s films grossed nearly two billion dollars and afforded him the glamorous and extravagent A-List lifestyle of the Hollywood blockbuster filmmaker.  Yet Shadyac found that more – in his case, a 17,000-square foot art-filled mansion, exotic antiques, and private jets — was definitely less.   “What I discovered, when I began to look deeply, was that the world I was living in was a lie,” he explains.  “Much to my surprise, the accumulation of material wealth was a neutral phenomenon, neither good or bad, and certainly did not buy happiness.”  Gradually, with much consideration and contemplation, he changed his lifestyle.  He sold his house, moved to a mobile home community, and started life—a simpler and more responsible life –  anew.

But, at this critical juncture, Shadyac suffered an injury that changed everything.  “In 2007, I got into a bike accident which left me with Post Concussion Syndrome, a condition where the symptoms of the original concussion don’t go away.”  These symptoms include intense and painful reactions to light and sound, severe mood swings, and a constant ringing sound in the head.  Shadyac tried every manner of treatment, traditional and alternative, but nothing worked.  He suffered months of isolation and pain, and finally reached a point where he welcomed death as a release. “I simply didn’t think I was going to make it,” he admits.

But, as Shadyac wisely points out, “Death can be a very powerful motivator.”  Confronting his own mortality, he asked himself, “If this is it for me –  if I really am going to die  –  what do I want to say before I go?  What will be my last testament?”  It was Shadyac’s modern day dark night of soul and out of it, I AM was born.  Thankfully, almost miraculously, his PCS symptoms began to recede, allowing him to travel and use his movie-making skills to explore the philosophical questions that inhabited him, and to communicate his findings in a lively, humorous, intellectually-challenging, and emotionally-charged film.

But this would not be a high-octane Hollywood production.  The director whose last film had a crew of 400, assembled a streamlined crew of four, and set out to find, and film, the thinkers who had helped to change his life, and to seek a better understanding of the world, its inhabitants, their past, and their future.  Thus, Shadyac interviews scientists, psychologists, artists, environmentalists, authors, activists, philosophers, entrepreneurs, and others in his quest for truth.   Bishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. Noam Chomsky, historian Dr. Howard Zinn, physicist Lynne McTaggart, and poet Coleman Banks are some of the subjects who engage in fascinating dialogue with Shadyac.

Shadyac was very specific about what he was after, wanting I AM to identify the underlying cause of the world’s ills – “I didn’t want to hear the usual answers, like war, hunger, poverty, the environmental crisis, or even greed,” he explains.  “These are not the problems, they are the symptoms of a larger endemic problem.  In I AM, I wanted to talk about the root cause of the ills of the world, because if there is a common cause, and we can talk about it, air it out in a public forum, then we have a chance to solve it.”

Ironically, in the process of trying to figure out what’s wrong with the world, Shadyac discovered there’s more right than he ever imagined.  He learned that the heart, not the brain, may be man’s primary organ of intelligence, and that human consciousness and emotions can actually affect the physical world, a point Shadyac makes with great humor by demonstrating the impact of his feelings on a bowl of yogurt. And, as Shadyac’s own story illustrates, money is not a pathway to happiness.  In fact, he even learns that in some native cultures, gross materialism is equated with insanity.

Shadyac also discovers that, contrary to conventional thinking, cooperation and not competition, may be nature’s most fundamental operating principle.   Thus, I AM shows consensus decision-making is the norm amongst many species, from insects and birds to deer and primates.  The film further discovers that humans actually function better and remain healthier when expressing positive emotions, such as love, care, compassion, and gratitude, versus their negative counterparts, anxiety, frustration, anger and fear. Charles Darwin may be best known for popularizing the notion that nature is red in tooth and claw, but, as Shadyac points out, he used the word love 95 times in The Descent of Man, while his most famous phrase,survival of the fittest, appears only twice.

“It was a revelation to me that for tens of thousands of years, indigenous cultures taught a very different story about our inherent goodness,” Shadyac marvels.  “Now, following this ancient wisdom, science is discovering a plethora of evidence about our hardwiring for connection and compassion, from the Vagus Nerve which releases oxytocin at simply witnessing a compassionate act, to the Mirror Neuron which causes us to literally feel another person’s pain.  Darwin himself, who was misunderstood to believe exclusively in our competitiveness, actually noted that humankind’s real power comes in their ability to perform complex tasks together, to sympathize and cooperate.”

Shadyac’s enthusiastic depiction of the brighter side of human nature and reality, itself, is what distinguishes I AM from so many well-intentioned, yet ultimately pessimistic, non-fiction films.  And while he does explore what’s wrong with the world, the film’s overwhelming emphasis is focused on what we can do to make it better.  Watching I AM is ultimately, for many, a transformative experience, yet Shadyac is reluctant to give specific steps for viewers who have been energized by the film.  “What can I do?” “I get asked that a lot,” he says.  “But the solution begins with a deeper transformation that must occur in each of us.  I AM isn’t as much about what you can do, as who you can be.  And from that transformation of being, action will naturally follow.”

Shadyac’s transformation remains in process.   He still lives simply, is back on his bicycle, riding to work, and teaching at a local college, another venue for sharing his life-affirming discoveries.  Reflecting Shadyac’s philosophy is the economic structure of the film’s release; all proceeds from I AM will go to The Foundation for I AM, a non-profit established by Shadyac to fund various worthy causes and to educate the next generation about the issues and challenges explored in the film.  When he directs another Hollywood movie, the bulk of his usual eight-figure fee will be deposited into a charitable account, as well.  “St. Augustine said, ‘Determine what God has given you, and take from it what you need; the remainder is needed by others.’  That’s my philosophy in a nutshell,” Shadyac says, “Or as Gandhi put it, ‘Live simply, so others may simply live.’”

Shadyac’s enthusiasm and optimism are contagious.  Whether conducting an interview with an intellectual giant, or offering himself as a flawed character in the narrative of the film, Shadyac is an engaging and persuasive guide as we experience the remarkable journey that is I AM. With great wit, warmth, curiosity, and masterful storytelling skills, he reveals what science now tells us is one of the principal truths of the universe, a message that is as simple as it is significant:  We are all connected –   connected to each other and to everything around us.  “My hope is that I AM is a window into Truth, a glimpse into the miracle, the mystery and magic of who we really are, and of the basic nature of the connection and unity of all things.  In a way,” says Shadyac, a seasoned Hollywood professional who has retained his unerring eye for a great story, “I think of I AM as the ultimate reality show.”

Written & Directed by: Tom Shadyac
Producer: Dagan Handy

Editor: Jennifer Abbott

Co-Producer: Jacquelyn Zampella

Associate Producer :: Nicole Pritchett

Director of Photography: Roko Belic
Executive Producers: Jennifer Abbott, Jonathan Watson
Media and PR Coordinator: Harold Mintz
Graphic Designers: Yusuke Nagano, Barry Thompson
Release Dates: March 11, 2011 – Los Angeles, March 18, 2011 – New York
Running Time: 80 minutes
Rating: Not rated

http://muvi.es/w3121/291763