What's wrong with our world, and what we can do to make it better?
These two questions Director Tom Shadyac (Ace Ventura, etc) asked luminaries including: David Suzuki, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Lynne McTaggart, Ray Anderson, John Francis, Coleman Barks, and Marc Ian Barasch in the new documentary I AM. I was fortunate to catch the show in Portland, Oregon, the first city on its tour around the U.S., and even to talk in person with Tom, following a standing ovation.
I AM is packed with fascinating interviews including one about Quantum Mechanics and an experiment measuring the electronic impulses of yogurt bacteria empathizing with Tom. I came away from this passion project feeling inspired by the main message of I AM — We Are One.
WE ARE ONE
We Are One. These three words take my thoughts down pathways of my own personal experience as an SGI Buddhist and of living in the Andes with Quechua and Aymara peoples.
Buddhism has been based for thousands of years on the concept of "Dependent Origination". One Buddhist parable illustrating this point is "The Two Bundles of Reeds". If the two bundles lean against each other, they both can stand. If one falls, so does the other.
In the Andes, for thousands of years, Quechua and Aymara peoples have lived the concepts "Ayni" and "Pachamama"; expressing aspects of our mystic interconnection with everything. Ayni can be translated as, "Reciprocity, cause and effect, dependent origination". Pachamama has been translated as, "Mother Nature" and "space/time continuum".
In Bolivia, Evo Morales, the first indigenous president in the Americas, is bringing indigenous wisdom into the global arena. For example, on December 7, 2010 Bolivia enacted a law acknowledging the Rights of Mother Earth as if she were a person, and declared her to be "sacred".
WE WHITE FOLKS ARE MENTALLY ILL
As a descendant of European immigrants to the Americas, as well as of Native Americans, one scene in I AM especially resonated with me. Prior to the arrival of Europeans, Native populations had few incidences of profound mental illness or dysfunction. Native American Jack D. Forbes observed that the European conquerers appear to have been infected with the mental illness of cannibalism. "Cannibalism, as I define it, is the consuming of another's life for one's own private purpose or profit."
Another part of I AM that I enjoyed was the rebuttal of Social Darwinism. The luminaries interviewed were in agreement with one of my favorite books, "Mutual Aid". Instead of competition, it is mutual aid and cooperation which guarantee the survival of the species.