There is an Indian story I have always loved. An Indian and a white man are riding horses. As they are galloping, the Indian suddenly pulls the reigns and stops. Surprised, the white man asks, “Why have we stopped.” The Indian replies, “We went too fast. We left are souls behind.” As I watched James Cameron’s Avatar, I was constantly reminded of this story. As mankind, our technology has plummeted: We got on our iron horses; we galloped; we invented bizarre communication techniques, and we invented tools so peculiar that even we were amazed by them. Our souls, however, have been left behind.
As we produced these technologies, we devoured our earth. We became enslaved; these technologies demanded much more from us. We not only destroyed our planet, but we also destroyed each other to meet the demands of these technologies. Millions died for the cause of oil: People killed each other; pain and tears followed; none mattered. Knowing the gods wanted sacrifice, we sacrificed ourselves, and as for our souls, they were left behind.
We slaughtered many an animal to feed the ever-increasing population. Nature destroyed our houses but didn’t suffice. We built tall apartments by the seaside only to occupy once a year, but without a single thought spared to other organisms living there.
In fact, our planet was made only for us; animals our food, nature our house. We could divide it into lots as we pleased to sell it. We could claim our right on it and if any protest, we owned weapons; weapons that have proved us right; weapons that sustained our claims. We killed, assassinated, wounded and tortured. We did all we could to destroy and present the loot to our demanding gods. We didn’t stop; we wouldn’t cease until the last tree felled, the last fish perished.
Then someone turned up. He claimed that technology could be employed to create instead of destroy. He further went on to prove his claim and directed one of history’s best movies. He used “imagination” and created a new world all over again. As we left the theatre or turned off our DVD players, we commented, “He has used technology to the full. Let’s give him his due.”
Amongst the audience, however, there were a few who sorrowed and remained silent. A few realized as they watched the Na’vis in silence and they toured Pandora that what lay in front of them was not a fantasy planet. The few remembered the Indians, the aborigines and the many native primitive tribes! Those few recollected the rain forests of the world. The same rain forest that we are reminded of as we dash into a nearby store and watch the neon lights showing how many acres of rainforest has been lost.
Just like the time we were enraged at the scene in Avatar where the trees were mowed down by bulldozers: All the while we were calmed by the fact that it was only “a movie” and at those very moments, the trees were being cut down by our kin. Furthermore, while mankind buys meat wrapped in a sealed-hygienic bag from the mega-super grocery store, he cannot be expected to share the emotions of the Indian who gives thanks to the deer he has shot for sharing his life and presenting it as a meal.
As I watched Avatar, I wasn’t watching a fantasy world. What lay in front of me was my very own kind, and my word! And yes, I hated mankind and ashamed of my humanity.
Yet as I witnessed the same mankind creating such a movie, I was once again reminded of the great duality existing in our universe. It was the same mankind who made “Mona Lisa” and fought in WWII. We are able to compose music to sooth our souls; yet, we are also capable of gagging and raping and killing a poor, innocent young girl walking in the street with her guitar. To create and to destroy! To make and to annihilate! To birth and to kill! To produce and to expend! So much more duality one cannot exemplify. So here is the portrait of mankind dwelling on the planet earth, and there is only one thing that dictates its beauty or monstrosity—our souls left behind.
It now seems that the time to put the brakes on is fast approaching. Yet, that brake won’t be too healthy. As we travel too fast, what we face along the way may force us to brake. While going fast, we are all aware of the consequences of braking. At this turning point, there still exits another choice: Apply our inner brakes; make ourselves stop. Stop, so that our souls can catch up!
I can almost hear you asking me how to achieve this. I am not suggesting that you cease using technology and leave everything behind to go back to nature. Such a choice could only be a fantasy. First, stop and listen to your inner self and let life flow, while you just let go. This is not to mean you leave your work and disappear. Do what you are supposed to do, but don’t let yourself be carried away with the current. Stop and observe.
Observe and keep an eye on the life you lead, the air you breathe, the people around you. As you slowly become calmer, you will witness your life already starting to change. I am not proposing new techniques or tactics. I only propose you apply your inner brake, just as if you were stopping on a hilltop to observe and enjoy the view. Once you stop you can witness the silence of your environment. This is exactly what you could do in your life.
Once you stop, you will begin to realize you no longer feel anger, and you will begin to wonder how you can enrich this world. Eventually, you will begin to produce, to create. Your product, in turn, will touch the souls of others which in turn will trigger something in them. Afterwards? The more the number of people who brake, the less damage we will face in the next phase. What’s more, if you have already employed your inner brake, you will be affected the least when all humanity suddenly brakes.
For you have left the iron horse, and you are on a real horse watching the others galloping by.
May you have the strength to brake now!