Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Avatar and its holistic promise

For a box office hit, Avatar is the most successful movie ever. I was one of the last to help James Cameron’s creation reach that tipping point as it took me several weeks to get myself to the movie theater. I have never felt drawn to science fiction because - for reasons not clear to me - such movies always seem to involve a lot of violence. I had not read much about the Avatar phenomenon and I only went after two trusted friends pressed me to go. They were right. Avatar is a beautiful film with an inspiring message. 

However what inspires me most is that a film with this kind of message is able to reach more people in the world than any other movie before. The inspiration of Avatar is that there is another world where love rules and where relationships between people and between people and nature are fundamentally respected. And it is that world that after a violent battle prevails over the destructive disconnected greed of our present dominant culture. Avatar portrays the beauty of holism - that word that has defined the new age movement since the sixties. Holism attracted hippies then. It now attracts masses worldwide. That is the message of Avatar.

To be clear: holism is not some distant dream. It is our everyday reality. We live in an interconnected world. That has always been the case. Ancient cultures were aware of that. Whatever is left of those still live by these principles today. It is only our Cartesian perspectives from the past few centuries that have spread a different message: that we can chop up reality and make a lot of money while selling the pieces. It has been an overwhelming and intoxicating message that still rules the world from Wall Street to the slums of Sao Paulo and from hunger and disease in Africa to environmental pollution. 

It was science that led Descartes and his contemporaries to the fragmented approach of reality. Yet modern science is increasingly telling a different story. In the past decades scientific discoveries in physics and medicine have presented more and more proof of the interconnected reality of our existence. Since Einstein, in the past century, science is telling us that we are living in a holistic world indeed.

It will take more time for that message to increasingly influence political and economic policies. Science is always ahead of the times. But the trend is clear: we are on our way to Avatar’s beautiful world of Pandora. We cannot escape our interconnected reality and that realization will ultimately influence and determine the way we organize the world community and our relationship with nature.

The good news is that the success of Avatar is showing that many millions of us are already - consciously or unconsciously - embracing, or at least feel attracted to, the holistic vision. That is a critical fact as more and more scientific research also begins to prove that mind does influence matter. As Pandora becomes part of the imagination in the minds of millions, we are beginning to shape new realities. In the end we may not need to go to Pandora to find a new and better world. We can create it right here. And, in this case, going to the movies is an important first step. 

posted by Jurriaan Kamp