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to the moon

passing down a piece of our true nature

You are going to the moon never to come back to Earth. You can take one book and one film with you. Discuss why you chose the book and movie, what were the key themes or insights from the book/story and how do they relate to your interests, what new information did you learn and what do you think it tells us about the larger world.

There was a point in my life where I vividly experienced a shift in my worldview. I felt very present and connected to the earth. I saw things through the scope of a homo-sapien, among other homo-sapiens, in an environment. My shift began in New Mexico and started taking shape during the year I lived in Saudi Arabia. While overseas, I saw a new way of how we do things: how we govern, eat, socialize, love, worship, and consume. And with this vivid experience I realized we were all one people. We all do the same things, some just happen to dress differently while doing them.

What is it about humans that drive our behavior? What is the meta-force that connects us together and resides beneath our cultures? Does it connect to nature? Why do we consider ourselves separate from nature? Why, after millennia of human history, and generations of innovation and development, are we still out of balance with the very environment that sustained our anthropological, civil, and social development?

I was thrilled at the thought of what could be behind these questions. I knew they would reveal insights about our place on Earth.

“I am” is a documentary that charged my new worldview by addressing two profound questions: what is wrong with our world, and what can we do to fix it?

The movie explores the nature of human behavior, metaphysical interconnectivity, and the kinship we share with all living things. It illustrates how our perceived separation from the environment has put us in a position to exploit nature as a “resource” for our utility, rather a facilitator of life that should be embraced. To quote the film, “There is one fundamental law that all of nature obeys that mankind breaks every day. The law evolved over billions of years and it is this: nothing in nature takes more than what it needs. When something does, it becomes subject to this law and it dies off.” Some argue that its in our nature to compete and we need it to survive. Yes, competition is naturally inherent, but only to a degree that maintains a sustainable balance with the ecosystem. A redwood doesn’t take all the nutrients in the soil, only what it needs to grow. A lion does not kill every gazelle, only one. Oceans, plants, animals, humans, are all cooperatives.

This movie inspired me immensely. Actually, it offered a logical reason for why I’m happy all the time! It’s the same reason we get chills of joy when we observe great acts of kindness, when we feel empathized, or experience love. We’re fundamentally connected to everything in nature because we are nature. And this is the message I would want to preserve if going to the moon.

To learn more, I sought out books by the authors interviewed in the film. This is how I found “The Sacred Balance” by David Suzuki. “The Sacred Balance offers an insightful analysis of the physical, social, spiritual needs that form the basis of our global society.” Suzuki explains how everything involving the human experience is dependent on the health of the earth’s ecosystems. From the paper-thin ozone layer that protects us from radiation, to massively bio-diverse rainforests, everything in nature exists in an integrated balance that has formed over billions of years. Suzuki then illustrates how this balance has been offset due to human industrialization and over-cultivation of resources. As the only species to ever threaten the extinction of (countless) other species, he urges us to acknowledge our dependence on nature and integrate our practices within it.

By learning more about our contextual role(s) on Earth, I realized that the social issues we’re facing are not merely the results of broken systems, but rather, broken systems themselves are symptoms of our disconnect with nature. Symptoms that permeate even the most traditional of cultures. Nevertheless, I believe humans are resilient and capable of extraordinary feats, even capable of recovering from our impoverished natural environment. It’s for these reasons I would bring “I Am” and “The Sacred Balance” with me to the moon.

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