I don’t mean to do a plug for a movie I have no connection to, which most people are going to see anyway, but James Cameron’s “Avatar” flick has a tremendous amount of resonance in how we ought to be, live and perceive our environment.
Hunter Gatherer Lifestyle
In the movie, the Na’Vi tribe has a lifestyle of total communion with their ecology. Everything is connected to their Goddess Eywa (quite literally, through some form of organic technology, as every living creature seems to have the equivalent of a USB port, be it plant or animal, even the soil), like a huge hard drive where you can download and upload memories. They attempt to not disturb any ecological balance, and any kill is justified and respected. The Na’Vi, indigenous to Pandora, are tall, lean, beautiful, agile and extremely fit. They are “Wild Fit”, as a matter of fact. They train all day long by riding their native equine and bird equivalents, climb trees, cling to vines, scale mountains and more. The forest is their playground, their gym. Quickly into the movie, you care more for the natives of Pandora, truly connected to their planet, than you do for the humans, who act as a colonizing virus (a concept explored in movies like The Matrix Trilogy) after putting their own planet, Our planet Earth, in ecological jeopardy (nice to know in many centuries, we still haven’t resolved our environmental issues).
Similarities to Our Ancestry
Well, not just our ancestry if you consider we still have a few tribes of true Hunter Gatherers, such as the Hadza in Tanzania. But, humans used to be hunter-gatherers before they were farmers, over 200,000 years ago. Farming (and a newly acquired sedentary lifestyle) lasted 10,000+ years until we became the modernized “zoo humans” we are today, thanks to the industrial revolution. We have the technology, which seems soulless compared to how the Na’Vi’s “theo-technology” (a term I just coined for this post, but will not claim was not used elsewhere, if someone happens to have beaten me to it), but we are disconnected, figuratively. We may connect to the World Wide Web, send tweets and social network updates via our smart phones, but we are detached from our immediate surroundings, all focused only on our tech devices. The Na’Vi remind me also of the Masai warriors my wife and I encountered when honeymooning in Tanzania. Very tall, lean, able to read the bush and track animals even in the dark, with a built-in GPS into their brain, their skin so dark it seems it had a bluish tint to it. We don’t need to travel 6 light years, though I thank Jim Cameron for the experience, the reminder, the awareness, the message.
Movies: Not Just To Escape
Yes, movies allow us to escape from our worldly matters, but great ones also bring us back, especially when the message is subtly obvious (great oxymoron, but stay with me here…). Last year’s “Wall-E” showed ballooned humans, degenerating after trashing the Earth. Here, we saw us colonizing another planet to steal rather than undo what we did to ourselves. The answer in both cases was a return to our roots. It’s not just fitness. It’s a change of perception (which the movies provide), hopefully for a change in lifestyle, not just exercise and proper eating. It’s a call to Action!