1. Be assured of the careful consideration for the viewer's experience that went into the film and its message
Tribe of Heart films are created with the intention of introducing people of all backgrounds and walks of life to new information and perspectives on issues that are often misunderstood and sometimes the source of controversy. Our goal is to do this in a way that encourages personal contemplation and respectful dialogue, and most importantly, that communicates respect for each and every viewer. Extensive testing is carried out prior to the release of each of our films, and every effort is made to incorporate what is learned into making the viewing experience as worthwhile as possible for the widest range of people. So, while the stories told by our films can present new and challenging ideas that sometimes bring up strong feelings, overwhelmingly, viewers find the experience worthwhile, and one that they would recommend to others.
2. Give each person the space they need to come to their own conclusions
Tribe of Heart films pose powerful questions about the human conscience and ethics of the human-animal relationship. The purpose of doing this is to encourage each person to work toward developing their own answers, to go on their own journey of discovery -- not to impose a predetermined point of view or answer on anyone. Integration of new ideas and the clarification of values are processes that take time, and that also benefit from a respectful, supportive environment. A simple way of showing respect for another person grappling with strong emotions or ethical dilemmas is to focus on trying to understand what they are experiencing and thinking about, rather than on convincing them of your own point of view. You can also be supportive by providing access to resources and options a viewer may need in order to take the next step toward finding their own answers.
3. Go with the flow
Issues of conscience and social justice bring up strong emotions, which can run the gamut from joy to grief, from excitement to introspection, from quiet resolve to simply feeling overwhelmed. There is no right or wrong when it comes to our emotional responses, they are simply an expression of our humanity and engagement with important issues. Tribe of Heart films sensitively juxtapose troubling injustices with the stories of inspiring role models who respond with creativity and nonviolence. They also expose viewers to little-known information about the emotional lives and family bonds of our fellow animals. The mixture of new ideas and powerful feelings that this experience evokes can become a vehicle for personal awakening and inspiration. It can create a context for opening up to ourselves and each other, and emerging from the apathy and disempowerment that plague our society. By allowing others to experience and express their thoughts and emotions without judgment, you give them a true gift. Even those who are experiencing an outpouring of feelings or thoughts, if given the necessary space, very often are willing to share what they are going through after a short while. They also may greatly appreciate the opportunity to listen in on a discussion that others are having.
4. Recognize the wide range of post-viewing needs
After watching a Tribe of Heart film, some people are motivated to immediately discuss everything they are thinking and feeling. Others may wish to sit quietly for some time and just process the experience. Some viewers have pressing questions about any number of topics that they hope to get answered. Others are eager to get started sharing the film with the people in their life, or to learn how they can do more by using the film as a tool for change. The post-viewing Q&A with the filmmakers on the DVD of Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home was designed to help audiences make the transition from the intensity of the viewing experience to fostering a group dialogue, and was created based on our experiences presenting the film at numerous screening events. The Peaceable Journey Guide on the Tribe of Heart website (also available in printed form) is intended to further address these widely varying needs of viewers, providing detailed information about how to learn more about the issues explored in the film; offering advice and guides to help people get started sharing the film with others; and suggesting various ways people can get involved in larger-scale opportunities surrounding our films.
5. Take satisfaction from participating in a long and honorable tradition
Exposing others to the reality of a widespread injustice is a powerful act. It is an act that can transform lives, and if enough of us do it, one that can even help change the course of history. This is not something new. Indeed, sharing stories focused on issues of justice is a longstanding tradition, and one of the key elements of the success of past social justice movements. For example, in an earlier era, books and pamphlets documenting the details of human slavery and telling the stories of people caught up in this global tragedy played an essential role in awakening millions of people to the cause, motivating many to get involved and take action. People, in general, love engaging stories, whether told in a book or shown on a screen. A well-told story that sheds light on the nature of an injustice can give us a more nuanced understanding of the issue, a more accurate perception of those who are being exploited or oppressed, and a more realistic assessment of the role our own daily choices may play in contributing to the problem -- or its solution. When we share artistic works that help people better understand the justice issues of our times, we become part of this great tradition that has played such a significant role in the evolution of human society. The challenges we face in doing this work connect us to those who have done it before us, and will in turn connect us to those who will carry on this tradition in generations to come.
Learn about some of the storytellers and their supporters who changed the course of history, and inspired our work at Tribe of Heart, here.
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