Saturday, April 10, 2010

"2012" the movie and Global Warming

"2012" the movie. I really didn't know what to expect from the promotional photograph. It showed a Tibetan Monk standing on a cliff, wearing the traditional red robe, and watching a gigantic tidal wave/tsunami sweeping across the mountains headed at him. The actual scene in the movie was even more dramatic. He was in a small concrete structure on top of a mountain and was ringing the bell for the last time as the wave over took him and then the camera switched to the outside as the whole building was swept away. It occurred to me that a Buddhist monk would probably not bother to warn everyone about a disaster they couldn't avoid and wait until the last second to do it.
Several people died in this movie but since it was an apocalyptic film that was to be expected. John Cusack got to play the hero at the end, along with the guy who married his ex-wife, and his son who was not supposed to be there, but saved the day at the last second. The story had a happy ending which we all hope would happen. That man would save at least a few of it's legions, although in the movie, art imitated life in that as it ended up, like the Titanic, the rich got the life boats, and the rest were left to drown, except for a thousand or so who had survived so far, towards the end. One of the elite, a scientist, quotes from past philosophers stating a case for the common people who were being left to die, so, the mother ship of the ARCS, that were built in secret to preserve some selected lives, including mammals that were flown by helicopter to the ships, in a manner that made me realize that a really old man and his sons, on foot in ancient Babylonia would have had a pretty rough time of it, stopped and opened the gates to let the huge hoard on board the main ship, almost causing the certain death of everyone on board.
To those who think Sci-Fi is nonsense, it wouldn't have been a good movie. The special effects were realistic, the arcs themselves were nicely constructed, and the majority of the realism depended on one's ability to recognize landmarks that were constantly shown. There was the Washington Monument, the White House, portions of Yellowstone National Park, the Golden Gate Bridge, downtown Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and many more that were all recognizable enough to lend credibility to how devastating the disaster struck. I found it ironic that one of the characters, played by Oliver Platte, mentioned that the people with the cardboard signs predicting the end of the earth were finally going to be the sane ones. My personal view on that is that they have been saying that for the past 1500 years and haven't been very accurate. Kind of a rough way to spend your life - depending on something that might happen SOME DAY in order to be right. I enjoyed the movie. The excitement of the child actors in the movie made the best part of the dramatic effect. I would recommend the movie for anyone of any age, although I will mention there was a few moments of Adult Language, Adult Action (cataclysmic accidents, not intentional violence), and a few moments of kissing towards the end. I enjoyed it as long as
I watched it for entertainment value.
I happen to be a Buddhist practitioner who believes in humanistic values and we have a more fatalistic attitude. The scene where the Mayan Calendar believers committed a mass suicide was a bit intense to watch. Masses of people lying around dead, surrounding the pyramids and statues felt to me reminiscent of the Jonestown massacre, so I kind of flinched on that but otherwise the violence and deaths were pretty much implied. You saw mostly the ground, buildings, and cars being destroyed instead of bloody violent scenes with people getting killed. I congratulate the producers for that part.
I also view this from the perspective of a parent. If you were going to view this at home with your children, I wouldn't know actually how to tell someone honestly that this couldn't happen. I never gave my kids the false allusion that science was wrong so they wouldn't worry. With what we now know about Global Climate Change and with the 2012 prediction looming in the near future, I couldn't help but think that the timing on this movie, and what seems to me to be a resurgence of doomsday predictions that I have read on the Internet recently, concerning the Mayan Calendar predictions might be connected.
How do I view the predictions?
A)I know from my protestant upbringing that my mother would have stated that no one can know "...the day nor the hour", but it will happen eventually, and as she reminded me, when she was a child, there were predictions about the end coming
soon. We actually had that discussion more than once.
B) with my own Buddhist study and practice from my present life, that I feel so much more relieved as I don't feel it is something that I need to care about. I have learned to be comfortable with "impermanence", meaning that nothing lasts
forever. I will probably be chanting when the big one finally hits, if I am alive to see it. Do I think that would save me from dying? NO WAY, but it would be better than worrying about it. As I watched the masses in front of the Vatican kneeling and praying it occurred to me that at least they were comfortable as they met their end. I personally believe that is the main part of any religion that is important. How we live our lives should reflect our being ready in case we weren't going to be alive tomorrow. I must admit there was times that I was rooting for the disaster and chaos instead of the people - which I realize now was wrong of me but unexpectedly gave me a feeling of immediate gratification. It resulted from some of the characters in the movie which I felt at the moment, should deserve to die. When one scene came up that the children were asleep on the plane, I knew it was telegraphing the future because if it were me and I expected to die, I would have preferred to go in my sleep and would at least considered leaving them asleep. When they all escaped the plane crash except for the pilot, it was not something that surprised me at that point.
If you are looking for something to watch that will entertain and excite you, I recommend "2012", but if you are looking for predictions (or hidden meanings) and a way to know or predict what history is going to be, I would say, "Please don't spoil the mood for the rest of us and put that kind of pressure on the author."
Do I believe that the world will end based on anything that I saw in this movie? Certainly not, but it made a nice premise for a thriller. My own convictions come from the fact that I do actually study things that are reported to be deadly to me. As I think about the author's intent and the timing of his story, and as we still face uneducated debate on global climate anomalies that could come from our being ignorant about how to prepare for the future ecologically (in the past, present, and future), then I want to be on the side of trying not to commit suicide through selfishness and therefore bring everyone else down with me. I have still not heard one bit of evidence that convinces me that there is even any room for debate and as Aldous Huxley said, "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
Even though I am comfortable with my life and eventual death, I have to think of others or I am no better than a suicide bomber who kills a crowd of people while trying desperately to prove a point by publicly ending his own life. (It is bad enough that I have to be splattered with his remains, I didn't sign on to be splattered on someone else for something I may or may not believe in, and they rarely ask your opinion, much less your permission.) I don't feel that I have that right, whether I meant to or
not. Now that the evidence is clear that we need to change our behavior to save, not the planet, but the people on it, then I must try to learn my part in not being part of the problem.