Saturday, January 30, 2010

Avatar and the Lessons of Unity

My family and I saw "Avatar" this afternoon. Tom had been itching to see it ever since he'd been lucky enough to see 20 minutes of the film at a convention in Las Vegas. You see, the software company for whom Tom has worked for over eleven years developed some of the computer programs that created the special effects in the movie. We had to get to see the film before it left the theaters, before we were relegated to see it at home sans 3-D glasses! It is, in fact, true that the nearly three-hour-long movie has few if any lags in action or story, and the time is gone before you know it. The story left me with much to chew on.

One of the first things to catch my eye is that in 150 years young people on Pandora will still be stretching their ears! It thrills me to know that TALL totally works on the beautifully lush and plush moon. The spiritual dimension of the film really touched me. Now, don't get me wrong, I am a Christ follower and I have never been especially "green". You will never see me praying to Mother Nature or worshiping a tree. I believe the Bible to be the inerrant word of God and therefore I believe that man was given authority over the Earth and that the Earth's resources are for our use and pleasure. I find this in Genesis 1:26 - "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'" I believe that if there is life on other planets or moons, then surely God has given those inhabitants the same reign over nature. However, the spiritual unity among the citizens of Pandora, as portrayed in "Avatar", is something I envy.

There's a beautiful scene in the movie when Neytiri's mother, who is the spiritual leader of Pandora, is praying to nature and to ancestors for guidance. Thousands of natives are kneeling beneath a mighty tree, hands resting on the shoulder of their neighbor so that every member of the community is connected. They are all swaying from side to side in unified sincerity. I envy that kind of undivided oneness. We live in a divided country in divided times. Neighborhoods and families are divided, as are churches, communities, companies, and friends. So many people finding so many reasons to separate and stay disconnected. So sad.

I love being involved in the theatre community. When I am doing a play I am united with people from many and varied walks of life. We want our play to be great and so we support one another, lift each other up, and we are united in respect, love, and a sense of purpose. I love watching "Extreme Makeover, Home Edition". I cry each week when I watch deserving families receive the gift of peace of mind and a new home. I am inspired by the sight of hundreds and hundreds of people coming together to give of their time, talent, and energy to better the life of a stranger. There is joy in being united in purpose.

During a conversation with a friend the other day, I was expressing my disappointment with a couple of people in my life. My friend said, "Why are you looking at people? Just look to God." I look to people because I crave community and unity. I work best when I’m a member of a team – a cog in the machine. I find it hard to get motivated to accomplish much of anything when I am isolated, but people inspire me. I love people! I crave people!

In Avatar, as in real life, it often takes a tragedy to unite people. In the days, weeks, and months after 9/11 we were a country united. We looked out for one another, we prayed together, and we supported our leaders. Tragedy unites. Tragedy reminds us to look beyond ourselves and to tend to the needs of others. It reminds us that we NEED each other. I need you every day – in times of peace and in times of war; in times of prosperity and in times of need; in times of sickness and in times of health. So much can and will be accomplished, but only if we work together.

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