Films For Tough Times


Films for Tough Times — April 2023

The Mental Health Committee has selected the spiritual practice of viewing selected “Films for Tough Times.” The scarcity of mental health therapists and clinical psychologists, as America’s mental health needs have climbed, calls for the practice of self-care in not only personal relationships, but also with Planet Earth.

The newly-named Compassion, Peace, and Justice Mission notes that in order for there to be peace, there must be justice, and in order for there to be justice, there must be compassion.

In order to increase compassion-building for Earth Day (April 22),  the Mental Health Committee has chosen the viewing of The Green Planet (2022), narrated by David Attenborough. The strange and wonderful world of plants are revealed like never before. 

There are five hour-long episodes, unveiling the interdependency of humankind with nonhumankind, including Tropical Worlds, Worlds of Fresh Water, Seasonal Worlds, Desert Worlds, and Human Worlds. It is a testament to the immense complexity of our natural world.

The Biggest Little Farm (2019) is the true story of a natural farm built and based on biodiversity, with a recognition of interconnections, impermanence, and transformation.  The 8-year journey of John and Molly Chester, trading city living for 200 acres of barren farmland, reveals their dream to harvest in harmony with nature.  They provide a vital blueprint for better living and a healthier planet.

Here are the qualities used for evaluating the films for compassion-building, and for the outcomes hoped for, after watching each film:

Qualities for evaluating films include:

1. Demonstrating compassion given to all of humanity and to all of creation, so that the film makes us feel good about humanity and creation;
2. Making kindness a priority;
3. Working through uncomfortable situations, especially coming to terms with one’s own personal hurt, disappointment, and/or loneliness;
4. Having a joyful ending; and
5. Being free for borrowing at local public libraries or on YouTube.

Outcomes realized after watching a film includes these hopes:

Take note of the scene(s) which built up compassion within, for both humankind, and/or for nonhumankind.
Reflect with self, or a group, on the wisdom of compassion which could be applied to another current situation.
See, hear, and then act. “It only takes a spark to get a fire going,” wrote songwriter Kurt Kaiser in 1969: “That’s how it is with God’s love, once you’ve experienced it. You spread God’s love to everyone, you want to pass it on.”


​“Happy are people who are humble, because they will inherit the earth.”

​​Matthew 5:3 (Common English Bible) 

By the Presbytery of Chicago Mental Health Committee

Rev. Jefferson Caldeira, Moderator

Email: [email protected]