JUST VIEWS - History and Commentary


Engaging Documentaries and Dramas on
National and International Issues of Social Justice


By Stephanie Downs Hughes, Ph.D., sociologist, Just Views (JV) USA & Global Founder & Director
SDownsHughes@yahoo.com, 916 Royal Blackheath Ct, Naperville IL 60563-2304 USA

Contact: Stephanie Downs Hughes  630/420-4233


Assistance to people starting and running programs in their own areas is to be found at


Stephanie Downs Hughes is available for further consultation by phone, not email.


The Flagship Program -- running monthly since 2002 continues as follows:
Video Viewings & View Sharings in Naperville IL USA on Second Fridays at 7:20 pm
Also encouraging at-home viewing and reviewing with family and friends!

Sponsored by the DuPage Peace through Justice Coalition (DPTJC) and
Hosted by the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church (DUUC) PTJ Group and held
at DuPage Unitarian Church at 4 S 535 Old Naperville Road, Naperville IL 65063.


For driving directions or information about the host church 30 miles west of Chicago,

see www.duuc.org or phone 630 / 505-9408.


DuPage IL USA JV program team includes Director Stephanie Hughes (630/420-4233),
Stu Anderson, Jill Versace, Kevin Lindemann, Mike Albrow, and others with
Monthly Posters: Lillian Moates, Newspaper Publicity: Jean McCollum; Tech: Jeannine Fons


For information about the DuPage Peace Through Justice Coalition and its various activities and

To learn the topic of the upcoming Just Views program, go to this website page:


To join and support the DPTJC, mail $15 per year with your name, address, phones, fax & email

To Membership Chair, DPTJC, PO Box 494, Winfield IL 60190.

To get answers to web questions about http://www.DuPagePeaceThroughJustice.org/
email DuPagePeaceThroughJustice@yahoo.com .


To receive email notices of Just Views and other timely DPTJC information, sign up via

http://www.DuPagePeaceThroughJustice.org/maillist.html. Then one may elect occasionally to

send selected email to all on the DPTJC maillist.




Inception, Objectives and Administration of JUST VIEWS


Just Views was begun here in the USA in Illinois’ DuPage County in the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11/01 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -- because of dismay over Bush administration-led policies to dominate and attack rather than to strive for peace through justice.


My intent and our shared objectives behind Just Views have been to use engagement and entertainment as education to bring more depth to consideration of why dominance, war and terrorism in various forms are being perpetrated and how to reduce them and instead to promote cooperation, sharing, and peace through justice. An underlying premise is that shared understanding of history and complex social problems is important for developing civilized and fair, long-term global solutions strategies -- for meeting the basic needs of all peoples around the globe -- and the will to implement democratically negotiated, fair solutions.


Our selection of videos used for the first 20 months, March 2002 to fall 2003, was cooperative and opportunistic month by month, with Kevin Lindemann helping me, Stephanie Hughes, select productions for the Just Views Friday night programs in early months. Thereafter, others have become involved in our team efforts. Stu Anderson has been most involved with me in film selection and acquisition, and he has often prepared and provided informational handouts.


Responsibility for administration of the Just Views program entails various aspects -- which can be kept simpler or expanded as time and teamwork allow. For our team, this has varied over time. Our audiences have varied from ten to seventy five. Some regulars who attend and participate most of the time -- knowing that whatever the production shown and topic discussed, it will be timely and of great interest and the discussion will be lively and informative.


Administrative Tasks may include the following:

·         Estimating and securing financial resources. ($50 seed money is enough).

·         Finding websites, catalogs, libraries, peace groups and other to provide ideas and access to issues films in video and DVD formats.

·         Keeping lists of future film possibilities -- titles with descriptions, sources and costs.

·         Previewing possible selections in full and making the choice by at least about a month ahead

·         Reserving the meeting space and equipment.

·         Lining up and training technical help as needed to operate electronics.

·         Selecting each program’s film/video/DVD feature, and securing it and permissions if necessary.

·         Finding and inviting knowledgeable resource persons to participate. They may bring handouts.

·         Publicizing each program (via emails, distribution lists, website postings, leaflets, posters; announcements at meetings and events, newspaper and newsletter notices, organization and church bulletin promos, and so forth).

·         Doing some background reading. Optional -- experts can take the major responsibility for this..

·         Preparation of handouts. Optional -- invited experts may be willing to do this.

·         Opening and setting up; prepping and facilitating the discussion of the topic and related issues, and sometimes of other issues current with participants; wrapping up, broaching next time, and ending the evening’s program. Picking up and closing the facility.

·         Returning materials and doing any other follow up required.


Coverage of Costs: Program administration work and month-by-month task work for the DuPage IL “flagship Program” is being done on a fully volunteer basis. Space for the DuPage, IL Just Views program continues to be donated free of charge by the DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church. This and other churches and organizations also donate publicity in newsletters, bulletin hand outs, on websites and via email distributions and oral announcements. The DuPage Peace Through Justice Coalition provided $100 for start up seed money to put toward acquisition expenses and out-of-pocket costs. While some videos are supplied free of charge from private collections and public libraries, from time to time, participants have made free-will donations to fully cover or to defray costs of renting or purchasing and shipping some of the videos used. Some distributors give us discounts because this is a free public education program. Leaders and other volunteers have given us small monetary donations occasionally. And task leaders have covered many communications costs entailed with locating vehicles and securing permissions if needed, and on occasion have supplied refreshments as well as handouts. Additional thanks go to employers and institutions that have supplied some of the handouts.


Selection of the films shown is, of course, at the heart of Just Views and is critical to the program’s usefulness and success. We have been seeking productions that inform viewers about the crucial leverage issues that affect the quality of life on earth -- now and in the future. Refer back to our objectives! We must have productions that are well researched, that document sources, and that adhere to sound principles, such as of honest representation, fair play, scientific method, sound journalism. The caliber to work that we appreciate is illustrated, for example, by Bill Moyers’ Now and Frontline programs shown on public television (e.g.. PBS) -- which are available for purchase and sometimes can be found in public and college library collections.

Our intent is to stimulate consideration from varied perspectives -- nonpartisan and multipartisan -- of the complex of factors contributing to the difficult situations in which we global citizens find ourselves. Beyond confronting reality, our intent is to prompt exploration of approaches for dealing with contemporary challenges constructively, humanely, fairly, democratically, efficiently, economically and effectively.


Some topic categories that fall within the peace-and-justice parameters of interest to Just Views program organizers and participants are these:

                War & Terrorism -- Violent Vs Nonviolent methods & consequences

                Media Issues, Truth Telling, Manipulative practices, consequences, alternatives

                Rights & Liberties -- Human, Labor, Women’s, Children’s

                Economic & Environmental Justice -- Capitalism Vs democracy

                Election System Issues

                Religious, Ethnic &/or Territorial Disputes

                Middle East Problems

                Latin American Issues


The Just Views director and administrative team are constantly seeking film resources and we encourage participants to suggest sources for videos that fill the criteria and fall into these categories. We are eager to identify websites of social justice organizations, clearinghouses, distributors and video makers themselves who can provide film inputs. And whenever anyone has a good resource or actual title to recommend, or a preview copy to send, we are glad to receive them. Send to: Stephanie Downs Hughes, Just Views, 916 Royal Blackheath Ct, Naperville IL 60563-2304.  Phone/Fax: 630/420-4233. SDownsHughes@yahoo.com


Details sought for Just Views film/DVD/format Videos.  Recommendations are most helpful if they include the types of information that follows, if possible in the format or order presented below, which can be copied and used as a form to fill in. (Specific Type, Title etc. go above those words; the rest goes below).




Type       Title                Subtitle OR Subject                                     Creator & Year                    Medium/Minutes

        Grade: ____ Theme/Categories:



        Examples of insights gained (one liner/s):                                                             




        Accessibility score: ____ How to Get:  Give phone, website, email & mailing address and specify:
                Who owns; where to borrow, rent, buy; costs; permission required, offered?                         




        Used &/or recommended by whom with full contact info, date and comments




Codes and Abbreviations used in Video Summaries

        Type: Documentary, Story/Drama, etc. (Specify if made for TV, PBS, CSPAN, etc. & which series)

        Used by/on (note date): DPTJC = DuPage Peace through Justice Coalition

        Number Scales High 9 to low 1

        Grade for purpose(s) fulfilled, quality, appropriateness: A, B, C, D

        Accessibility Score: 9 Have, 7 Easy to get, 3 Complicated/costly, 1 Permission difficult


We have chosen the DVD or video we will show as little as a month ahead and at most several months ahead. This short lead time permits us to be sensitive to issues of particular relevance to current events, to the tenor of public concerns, and to vehicles that only recently have come to our attention or have become available. By not planning a year in advance, subjects as they are taken up can be timely and important to our audiences. DuPage JV has experimented with doing series on a topic but we prefer to intersperse topics.


The Just Views information posted at our website -- as summarized on the first page of this report -- is intended to be useful to our local participants and also to people elsewhere organizing and running their own programs. Note that the upcoming Just Views program routinely is posted at our website. A chronology of the various titles and topics we have featured over the years is also there. Any inquirers can find examples of how monthly Just Views features and topics have been described and the sponsorship and location information that we provide. Our intent is to update periodically the chronological listing of the productions we have shown -- to serve as an aid to other groups and to individuals who want to seek out good DVDs and videos for the own viewing.


At times, infrequently, we have promoted the theme rather than the title of the stimulus video. We stress that the use of the actual title of the productions definitely is preferable. Using the video’s actual title helps other groups ask for it at their libraries, “google” for it on the web, and order it. And giving the title prompts individuals to rent and buy these DVDs and videos and to recommend them to others.


Telephone Conference Options. If participants have suggestions or feedback, if questions remain after our website is consulted, or if program planners elsewhere want to share ideas, please phone me / Stephanie Hughes. I can be reached or a substantive message may be left during waking hours Central Time at 630/420-4233.


Commentary: Personal Insights Developed through JUST VIEWS


Two big themes emerged in the first 20 months: “War hyped” (through seven of the videos) and “Latin American unrest in this century” (through seven other videos). Some perspectives that I, the director, garnered from the productions and our discussions of these videos with the knowledgeable resource persons, invited to join participants for the viewing and discussion following, are offered below.


Insights into War Hype


Discussions of the seven documentaries and dramas listed that dealt with war -- the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism”, war on Afghanistan, war on civil liberties, and war on Iraq -- enabled individual participants at the Just Views sessions to get historic perspectives, review facts and statistics, hear from experts, and compare notes with peers. Each of us has gained better understandings of dozens of issues. Each of us would cast our insights in our own way, and what follows is one person’s cryptic summary of some perspectives acquired by 9/11/2003.


Some policies and behaviors that do not build tolerance or respect, cooperation or peace include:

        Belligerence and bellicosity, threats and accusations,

        Pejorative labeling and categorizing, defining based on bias;

        Attempts to lead unilaterally, to dominate and manipulate;

        Failure to acknowledge underlying motives and

                attempts to camouflage primary motives with secondary or tertiary rationales;

        Failure to analyze thoroughly the variety of options, their consequences, costs, and
                likelihood / unlikelihood of achieving desired outcomes . . . . and so forth.


Some policies and behaviors more likely to succeed in building a lasting peace through justice include:
        Adhere to international treaties. Extend and build upon cooperative international agreements.

        Listen to and learn from respected spokespersons for other countries and interest groups.
        Partner fully in the United Nations, without trying to dominate, lead unilaterally and prevail.

                Strive for consensus.
        Practice negotiation to meet the basic needs of all, not national interest or special interests.
        Strive to negotiate fair trade rather than only so-called free trade arrangements.

                Overcome developed country favoritism.

        Practice separation of government and religion, keeping each free of the other.

        Avoid bias toward/oppression by the dominant.
        Strive to share territory, resources, and opportunities.

        Regulate capitalists in the public interest to protect lower classes.

        Legislate for and otherwise encourage media and press multiplicity, multilaterality, independence,

                honesty and accuracy.


Insights into Latin American Issues


The seven documentaries and dramas listed that dealt with Latin American countries in recent decades acquainted many of us with realities that had been beyond us. We have come to see the complexities of some problems that continue to plague the Americas and all of us Americans:


Violent power plays attempting to control property and profits and to take advantage of peasants and laborers have been rife in central and South America. At times, government, church and corporate elites have used the police and military and paramilitaries to control, take advantage of, oppress and brutalize to subdue the lower classes. Thousands of heinous cases of kidnapping (disappearance), torture, murder, incarceration without fair and reasonable due process shave been perpetrated in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Uruguay, Guatemala and elsewhere.


Corporate and government interests in the USA for self-serving and nationalistic reasons have at times attempted to help, have meddled or colluded with entrenched anti-labor interests. Many graduates of the USA funded and operated Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in Georgia, formerly named the School of the Americans and nicknamed the School of the Assassins, have been found to be involved back in Latin America in strategic, aggressive, brutal military and police practices in support of power elites.


United Nations agencies and nongovernmental organizations and liberation theologist and prosetilizing missionaries have at times attempted to help or have intervened with labor interests. In some cases, the US State Department has ignored, excused, or even aided and abetted, or collaborated with corrupt and repressive regimes and made difficult and dangerous the development of democratic movements in those Latin American countries.


In recent years, extreme violations of human rights have been reduced in some countries, like Guatemala. But patterns persist of class warfare, of oppressive control by big land owners and international corporations, and of aid and assistance from the USA government to Latin American regimes with self-serving, undemocratic interests.


Many citizens in the USA, and perhaps elsewhere, have not been able to discern from media coverage of Latin America the full truth about dictatorial regimes and their oppressiveness and brutality and what have been the USA agents’ involvements in supplying militaristic training, funding, helicopters, weapons, intelligence and consulting. Extreme political bias and manipulation for profit are patterns familiar in various arenas, not just in Latin America, including in the USA. Entrenched conservative interests in scattered locales seem bent upon maintaining and building their dominance and control, and not willing to trust in and share more with the broader society. Some aggression and meddling has been intermingled with declared attempts to control drug production and trafficking and terrorism which have led to the oppression and brutalization of farmers, workers and democracy-seekers.