Warning: This blog is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. (That's actually a blessing of course. I'm just trying to be fair to the skeptics.)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Messages From After Earth

To Be Or Not To Be? (That is REALLY the question)
This morning on the way to work, I heard 97.3 KLLC radio personality Hooman Khalili talking about the new movie, After Earth. I recently saw a promo of the movie and being a Sci-Fi/Action movie sort of guy, it really looked interesting. Of course, being a Will Smith fan only made the movie more appealing to see.
For those who may not be familiar with the movie, it’s set 1000 years from when mankind was forced to abandon Earth after a series of unknown cataclysms. The population is moved to a nearby extrasolar world know as Nova Prime. The movie centers around a crash landing back on Earth.
In his many comments about the move, he spoke to what messages the movie gave to us. He claimed that the main message was, of course, environmental. The movie portrayed how much better Earth was without man. Earth had flourished and species had evolved to include flying tigers among other things. (That’s right. In only 1000 years walking tigers evolve into flying tigers, that big of an evolutionary leap, yep.)

There was a gasp of approval voiced by the other members of this morning show that seemed to support this idea of the Earth without man as a kind of - just outcome. We may have perished, but the Earth, beautiful Mother Earth will go on and thrive.  

In any case, he went on to mention some of the other messages the movie gave us that spoke to overcoming fear and other virtuous behaviors. All good right?
While I don’t necessarily have a problem with Mr. Khalili's banal movie review, I do have a problem with this sublime but popular notion of how mankind is frequently portrayed as the villain. At least, his review seemed to highlight it.
I have yet to see the movie but all the sources I have looked up do not say what these cataclysms are or what caused them. Were they caused by natural phenomena? Solar Flares? The Borg? What? There seems to be an automatic belief that they were caused by some dreadful abuse and rape of planet Earth perpetrated by this pesky species known as- Mankind.
Now, this could well be the back story of this movie yet to play out in the sequels. However, even if it is, it is irrelevant.
It has been a popular fantasy of recent times to speculate on what will happen to Earth should mankind suddenly vanish. While certainly entertaining, there is a danger in permitting this kind of thinking to infect our world view.
We should ask - Should humanity perish, what would be the point of Earth without us?
Our world was created for US. WE ARE THE POINT to the extent that human life is what should be cherished and nurtured, not Mother Earth.
To elevate Earth to a kind of living status (Mother) is a childish notion.  To assign it human characteristics (anthropomorphism) is sophomoric at best. It devalues human life.
Earth is not a mother; it’s a planet. It’s made of many materials assembled in such a miraculous way that it holds a very special place in the universe in that it supports life as we know it. It supports many beautiful and wonders creatures in a complex system that is a another kind of miracle in and of itself.
Among all these creature is a one-of-a-kind, starkly and shockingly unlike anything else; it stands out so different, one must know it as yet another miracle. Born naked and unable to care for itself, it learns as it grows in a way no other creature does. It can laugh and cry; it can develop and communicate culture; it possesses the capacity of language (not just a capacity to communicate ;) and an intellect that it can conceive of things immaterial and abstract. No other creature does this. This rather odd fellow among all the other creatures is out of place; he really does not fit in, in that he seems to belong to some other existence. This creature is capable of unsurpassed beauty in thought and deed. It is the only creature capable of setting aside the natural instinct of self preservation for a mere idea, including love.
This is Man. A very special creature without a doubt.
And, yes. Mankind is also capable of horrors that transcend the natural world. All the more reason to see us a very, very different. Ever wonder why?
There can be no doubt we need to be the Earth’s most excellent stewards as our lives and future depend on this tiny piece of rock orbiting a rather ordinary star on the edge of a rather ordinary galaxy.
Nevertheless, we cannot be good stewards without understanding who we are first. To value us, to nurture us, to love us as the special creation we are, screams to take care of our home. Without this Earth, WE cannot live and that is the point.
You see? The human person must come before the Earth in order for us to understand why we must be good stewards of the Earth. If we put it the other way around, then mankind can be seen by some as problematic. Putting the Earth on a pedestal puts man in a position to worship it. Many civilizations did this and offered human sacrifices to their Nature-Oriented-Gods. And while we may not be setting up sacrificial altars anytime soon if we continue with this absurd line of thought, we are capable of finding other ways to keep Mother Earth safe from this infectious and destructive species known as Man. After all, the less people the better. It’s better for Mother Earth. It’s better for those who are - permitted to live.
And, once we set down this path of putting the Earth before us, how then do we determine who lives and who must be…sacrificed for the good of Mother Earth?
Perhaps we should consider a world where people are given wings before we actually create a world where tigers get them.

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