We Can Change
The Big Picture
by Glynn Wilson
How many stories does it take to make us understand and change?
Jesus and his disciples tried to warn people 2,000 years ago, but they could not understand.
People still do not get the message, although they worship him like a god, even George W. Bush.
The story of how human selfishness and greed threatens the survival of the species and the planet have been told for thousands of years, long before there was a Jesus, by word of mouth, on scrolls and carvings on rocks.
But now, armed with far more sophisticated knowledge of the planet and the human species and our behavior patterns, our psychology and sociology, the medium of our time is the film.
Inspired by everything they know about the universe, the earth and human kind, a number of film makers have tried to warn us. But for most of us, a movie is just another form of entertainment to go with our buttered popcorn and Coca-Cola. Interesting viewing, but unreal, with nothing important to say about us, our times or our future. Just another fantasy or fairy tale. And that is a mistake.
These are abstract stories, designed to reach out to those who can hear and see, as well as to make money from everybody else so the authors can go on to tell other stories.
Two movies just released in the past three years carry a central message that, if we do not get the point, and soon, we are doomed, people.
Seventy years ago last month, Harry Bates published Farewell to the Master in Astounding Science Fiction magazine, which later provided the basis of the noted 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still and its 2008 remake. In 1973, the story was adapted by Marvel Comics for its Worlds Unknown series with Bates’ blessing. Edmund H. North turned it into a screenplay in 1951, and Scott Derrickson directed the 2008 film.
Forgetting the rest of the hype and criticism of the movie, there are couple of scenes of critical dialogue we should focus on.
Helen Benson (played by Jennifer Connelly): I need to know what’s happening.
Klaatu (The alien in human form, played by Keanu Reeves): This planet is dying. The human race is killing it.
Helen Benson: So you’ve come here to help us.
Klaatu: No, I didn’t.
Helen Benson: You said you came to save us.
Klaatu: I said I came to save the Earth.
Helen Benson: You came to save the Earth… from us….
Klaatu: We can’t risk the survival of this planet for the sake of one species.
Helen Benson: What are you saying?
Klaatu: If the Earth dies, you die. If you die, the Earth survives. There are only a handful of planets in the cosmos that are capable of supporting complex life…
Then, Benson introduces the alien to a professor who won a Nobel prize in Biological Altruism, Professor Karl Barnhardt (played by John Cleese), who tried to negotiate the survival of the human species.
Professor Barnhardt: There must be alternatives. You must have some technology that could solve our problem.
Klaatu: Your problem is not technology. The problem is you. You lack the will to change.
Professor Barnhardt: Then help us change.
Klaatu: I cannot change your nature. You treat the world as you treat each other.
Professor Barnhardt: But every civilization reaches a crisis point eventually.
Klaatu: Most of them don’t make it.
Professor Barnhardt: Yours did. How?
Klaatu: Our sun was dying. We had to evolve in order to survive.
Professor Barnhardt: So it was only when your world was threatened with destruction that you became what you are now.
Professor Barnhardt: Well that’s where we are. You say we’re on the brink of destruction and you’re right. But it’s only on the brink that people find the will to change. Only at the precipice do we evolve. This is our moment. Don’t take it from us, we are close to an answer.
A year after the remake, another movie comes along that shatters not only all box office records, but the technological envelope in significant ways — along with our view of ourselves.
Someone should send copies of the DVD Avatar to every politician and corporate CEO in the land, including President Barack Obama and the head of BP, not to mention the owners of Southern Company, Alabama Power, Energen, Drummond Coal, et al.
Better yet, send it to their children and grandchildren. Perhaps they can get to the hearts of these hardened men.
How explicit does one have to be? If we do not change, we will die.
Dying is NOT inevitable. But it will take a massive amount of human will to overcome the corrupt, corporate inertia that threatens to swamp us.
If that means war on the private military guarding corporate America today, then so be it. If I had one of those Avatar bodies and a Great Leonopteryx, I would lead the charge myself.
Perhaps some of America’s finest will see the film and join us like Jake Sully joined the Na’vi.
But you know one of the most important weapons in the history of the world is the word. Verily I say unto you. Pass it on. Share it.
The taking and killing of this planet must stop! There is a better way.
© 2010 – 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.