Friday, 25 December 2009

Thinking for Our Future

James Cameron's latest film Avatar is simply stunning.

It is stunning because it is a perfect blend of an entertaining and inspirational plot with seamless computer simulations that the human eye can hardly distinguish from the reality. Though the plot is largely predictable with no surprise at all, the flawless computer graphics certainly make a breath-taking impact that makes the story more enjoyable than it should have been.

What impresses me most, however, is the plot that strongly encourages a serious reflection of the human world and its future. Where are we heading for? In what conditions do we want our children, and their children too, live?

Some may question why so many film works around the world in recent years have been themed on environmental protection. The answer should be more than obvious: Everyone on earth is now suffering from the evil deeds of our forefathers and ours of destroying our promised land. We are depriving of ourselves the food and water and many other necessities that keep us alive as human beings in the pursuit of economic gains that cannot even be sustainable. As we can see from the recent meeting at Copenhagen, so many people out there still believe economic benefits are much more important than taking serious actions to conserve and restore the ecological system. Everyone is trying to sidestep from their responsibility, citing reasons from the lack of resources to sheer cowardice. To me, Avatar is yet another timely reminder of our responsibility to protect the environment not only for ourselves, but our children and the generations to come.

The Na'vi people's great respect for life and nature moves me deeply. They are highly intelligent creatures and yet they are satisfied with a primitive way of living. Their god is feminine and so is the top priest of the tribe, who is also the wife of the chieftain. All these episodes remind me of the Daoist description of the world's origin as the Womb of Mystery and its preaching of "following the Law of Nature" without going for the extremes.

The Na'vi people also have a tail that enables them to communicate with their god, ancestors and even wild animals. Colourful but ferocious birds can be tamed and then serve as loyal servants and warriors. Not sure if I see it correctly, the Na'vi tail seems to be a sad reference to human beings who have lost their tail long before the modern times. The tail is an extension of the spine that connects to the brain, which obviously controls our actions and holds our thoughts. Perhaps this disconnection from the nature is one of the reasons why human beings have become so arrogant, forgetting where we come from and our responsibility to take good care of the land we were given.

The Copenhagen Climate Change Conference was certainly regrettable because the member states have failed to agree on this important issue. I wonder how many more reminders we need before any meaningful results can be achieved to save our land.

This is our land. We simply can't take whatever we want.

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