Winter break has been all about rejuvenating and re-connecting. The fall semester was filled with fun, new friends, a new house, and more challenging classes. There were moments of feeling on top of the world (ahem — dancing to ’23’ by Miley with my best girl friends 😛 ) – and there were other moments that left me wondering, “Where is the good in the world?”
Luckily, i’m always able to reconnect at home, so when I had an entire free day to lounge around the house, I decided to check out Netflix. If you know me, you know i’m 110% about the documentary section. Two docs immediately popped out at me: I Am and The Human Experience. I didn’t know these would leave such a warm and fuzzy feeling on my heart, but i’m so happy they did.
“That’s what i’ve been told all my life; That it’s utopian to believe in a world where love and compassion enter every aspect of our lives; even our business lives. That it’s okay to behave one way on Sunday and another way on Monday; That it’s just human nature. Is it possible we’ve misunderstood human nature?”
– Tom Shadyac, Director & Narrator of I Am
Since receiving my ‘wake up call’ and beginning my spiritual journey, i’ve also asked myself the same thing. I believe we’ve distanced ourselves so far from human nature, we can’t seem to remember that love is what matters and we are all connected.
We’ve started to believe in a ‘more is more’ way of living. The more money, success, fame, scandal, drama, clothes, diamonds, cars… the better you are. You somehow become better than others the more affluent you are. You’re living “The American Dream.” Anyone with less money, power, or influence is somehow less human.
Sure – these materialistic items might bring momentary happiness, but can that ever sustain you? How sad would it be if at the end of your life, or even at the end of the night, if all you have are your belongings?
I’m not concerned about these things, i’m concerned about who people are down to their core. I absolutely live for the moments of talking with others about how they grew up, what their goals are, what makes them tick, what makes them happy? I know i’m not alone in this. Millions of other people are receiving their wake up call, some in the form of an illness, bankruptcy, divorce – whatever it may be – and are choosing a new way of thinking and living.
“Humanity is going to require a substantially new way of thinking if it is to survive.”
– Albert Einstein
In I Am , Tom Shadyac (director of comedies such as Ace Ventura and Bruce Almighty) shares how a horrible bike accident left him searching for the real meaning of his life. He had acquired success in the form of a Pasadena mansion, private plane, and many prestigious awards. However, after spending months in isolation, he began to re-think these things. Was money all that mattered? Was being ‘powerful’ the most important thing a person could be? If these things that supposedly made up all the necessary makings of a happy life, why wasn’t he any happier than he was before the fame and success?
This is because fame and success and material items add no value to our spirits. They can momentarily numb out our feelings, but in the end, we’re still left empty. The real things that fill us up are love, connection with all of humanity, equality, helping and sharing with others, and being compassionate. Unfortunately, our society today is largely based in individualism and separation. How can we change this?
In the documentary The Human Experience, two young men go on a world adventure to search for what really makes the human experience unique. What is life really all about? Through social experiments such as living on the streets of Brooklyn during the coldest weeks of the winter, to working at a Peruvian children’s hospital and home for sick and abused children, to mingling and shaking hands with those suffering from leprosy and AIDS, what they found is that the happiest people aren’t the ones who have the most. The happiest people are the ones who have the most faith, the most community, and cherish and value of their lives – the bad AND the good.
“It was easy to love God in all that was beautiful. The lessons of deeper knowledge, though, instructed me to embrace God in all things.”
– St. Francis of Assisi
It’s clear our world has a long way to go, but there is so much hope alive. In a story ending the documentary I Am, Shadyac tells the story of G.K. Chesterton writing in for an essay on “What’s Wrong With The World?” for The Times. Instead of a long, drawn-out answer, Chesterton simply replied, “I am.”
This blew me away. Simple and groundbreaking. We are all part of the problem if we are not part of the solution. After hearing that, I was so inspired to take action. The world needs more peace-makers, more friendly faces, more positivity. I know it can be hard sometimes, but i’ve got to be a part of that movement. Each little piece, each kind act, is not little at all. It’s monumental. Can you imagine just one smile, one “hello!” in line, or a dollar for a homeless person on the street? It all adds up to a better, more compassionate world. THAT is true, authentic happiness. THAT is lasting, unconditional, and wonderful love that opens up my heart and makes me cry happy tears.
In The Human Experience, the two young men interview the other homeless men and women living on the streets with them. My heart broke when a woman told a story where she was sitting outside and three dogs were surrounding her, all abandoned. People were so concerned that the dogs were abandoned and homeless. People stopped to make sure the dogs were alright, to call someone to bring one home, to make sure they didn’t freeze, to get them some food. People did not even stop to talk to the woman on the street in the freezing cold. People pretended she did not exist. She said she felt like she wasn’t even human.
This is where we all have to band together and make a pact to try our very best, every single day, to strive to see every single person as equal. Human life is precious; It’s unique, and it’s filled with good moments and bad moments. By adding compassion, community, and embracing the fact that we are all one, we can make a gigantic difference. We’re all part of one race: The Human Race.
So now, I leave you with the ending quote from the documentary I Am. I hope you’ll watch both of these and share your comments with me and others. I couldn’t stop crying tears of happiness at the good that still exists everywhere in this world. It’ll open your heart and restore your faith in humanity. I know you will be inspired and broken open in the most beautiful way possible.
“There is a way out of this. LOVE. Now that’s not utopian, it’s real.
It’s scientific, it’s in our DNA.
So now I ask one more question… “What’s RIGHT in the world?”
Here’s to the hope that one day we can all answer that the same way…