Avatar & coronavirus (and after?)
I am not a science fiction movie kinda gal. But when Avatar came out, a friend insisted on us seeing it and so I did. I don’t remember much of the movie (sorry), but I do remember two scenes: Jake’s speech where he calls up on Ai’wa to defeat the invader (interesting metaphor to be made with today’s society) and the end scene, where all Na’vi people come together around the tree of souls and remind us of how interconnected we all are, and how we should live as one, with Mother Earth. A thrilling ending which is liberating because it restores hope and humanity.
James Cameron, without knowing, anticipated the Coronavirus pandemic and the choices our society would have to make for itself. In a recent article in the Financial Times (a must read if you want to think of the bigger picture), Yuval Harari, world known author of Homo Sapiens and Homo Deus, writes about the world after Coronavirus and the decisions that are being made right now, that will continue to impact us, and the ones we will have to make after and how this will shape our future forever. Yuval Harari writes: In this time of crisis, we face two particularly important choices. The first is between totalitarian surveillance and citizen empowerment. The second is between nationalist isolation and global solidarity.
The emotions people are living today are going to define the decisions they will take tomorrow: will people vote and act out of fear or will they be able to reason their amygdala and see the greater picture? Politicians, but also us as individuals when the time comes to vote or in our daily behaviours, will have the opportunity to do things differently, for the better or for the worse and will be judged by the generations to come. If life still exist on Earth, human life that is.
The other day as I was walking in the park; I ran into other confined people taking a bit of fresh air. You would think that in the times we are living, smiling at each other would be a sign of solidarity, empathy, compassion, heck basic « we are in this together » … Well, I did not get one single smile and observed a major physical distancing and therefore social distancing; as if smiling from afar would be so dangerous. That is one of the reasons I don’t have high hopes for a radical change towards more humanity, altruism … But a girl can dream can’t she? and maybe kaizen changes are more perennial than radical ones?
In the movie Avatar, the Tree of Souls is a connection to Ai’wa and allows her to directly interact with the World through the seeds of the tree. The tree has the capability to connect directly to the human nervous system, despite humans lacking a plug. The roots of the Tree of Souls are capable of initiating a neural link with the Na’vi, this allows all of the Na’vi to unite as one.
The Na’Vi have an experience of unity with other beings and the plug, attached to their bodies physically, unites them to other beings and to Ai’wa. That is the beauty of this last scene: when they all plug in, unite and create light and life where there was darkness.
Throughout the movie, the Na’Vi greeting « I see you » (translated from Sanskrit Namaste) really means I see myself in your eyes. And that is embedded in the very last scene.
Will we see ourselves in others eyes when all of this is over? Will we develop and show the empathy that such a philosophy of life requires? It’s all in the movie and it’s not new. It brings us back to many ancient wisdom from the Tao to the Stoic philosophy and it really only begs one question :
How will Coronavirus have changed YOU? what do you want for the future of our world and what will you do about it?
To end on a positive note: the story is still to be written and we can choose how, individually and collectively. I have been doing a lot of admin lately thanks to confinement and the people I had on the phone have been nothing but kind and calm. That sure gives me hope.