Sharon Brown, Sacred Fire Contributing Writer
We’re calling for a revolution.
Like 200,000,000 other people in the world, I saw Avatar.
Watching the film in 3-D was a magical immersion. While the storyline often felt predictable, I had a visceral longing to be part of the alien world, Pandora. The film offered a palpable experience of what “living in spiritual connection with all things” could feel like.
Writer/director James Cameron created a world of “communicating umbilical cords” and “tree root-neural networks,” weaving a living web of plants, animals, ancestors and Pandora’s goddess deity. In this way all creatures could experience each other on an elemental level, and the audience could experience this connection viscerally through the film.
Apparently Avatar struck a chord of longing in many people. I’ve read accounts of people so moved by the experience that they became depressed (some reports even say suicidal) when they “returned” to our culture and realized how sullied our natural world has become. (Hmmm… the main character’s name is Jake Sully. Did Cameron select that label of blind waste-making consciously, or did that name arise from our own world’s wry creative spirit? After all, the gods do have a sense of humor.)
Sully is a white ex-Marine who has a change of heart and leads the indigenous Na’vi people to victory against corporate raiders from Earth. The “white man saves the day” story caused many to accuse the film of racial bias, but despite complaints Cameron was in much demand by indigenous peoples of the world who found him an ally. When he spoke during April’s Ninth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), he brought an international spotlight to the battles being fought to protect native lands.
But what will it really take to win the battle against environmental and cultural exploitation?
Take a look again at Avatar. Was it the Na’vi people’s political gamesmanship, cunning guerrilla warfare or passionate commitment to activism that turned the tide and won the battle? No. For the Na’vi, all was lost—until Pandora, the planet herself, rose up and joined the fray.
And what prompted her engagement?
Prayer. Prayer was the secret, game-changing weapon.
Specifically, the prayers of a white, male, dominant-culture mercenary: the prayers of the oppressor who offered an awkward but earnest plea to Pandora’s goddess for help. It was well known that the goddess would not “take sides” because she simply maintains the balance of life. But she took notice when the oppressor revealed his people’s darkness. When the exploiter acknowledged his role in the exploitation, offered up his horror and called upon the goddess for support, a tipping point came. Pandora unleashed her power and rebalanced her world.
Sigh. Don’t we all wish our Earth could do that?
Ahh, but She can! And is! Our collective prayers that the Earth return to balance are being answered, though we may be surprised by Her response. Ask yourself–if Mother Earth were to rise up to rebalance our world, if She were to fight off the exploitation of Her “natural resources” and the perversion of Her natural law, what would it look like?
Perhaps it would look like this:
January 3, 2011: Thousands of Birds fall from the sky in South America.
February 24-March 4, 2011: Balochistan floods leave 166,000 homeless.
March 11, 2011: The Tohoku Japan earthquake and tsunami is one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world since 1900. It moves Honshu 2.4 m (8 ft) east and shifts the Earth’s axis between 4 and 10 inches.
August 23, 2011: Virginia earthquake is the largest to have occurred in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains since 1897 and was felt across more than a dozen U.S. states and in several Canadian provinces.
January 12, 2010: Haiti is hit by a 7.0 earthquake that kills 200,000 people and puts 3 million in need of emergency aid.
March 20, 2010: Fierce sandstorms blast Mongolian and Gobi Desert grit 1,600 miles into Beijing, overpowering the city for days and forcing 22 million people to take shelter.
March 21, 2010: Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano spews fire and ash 65,000 feet into the stratosphere, shutting down European air travel for six days and stranding 10 million travelers.
April 20, 2010: The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explodes in the Gulf of Mexico. Two days later, on the 40th Anniversary of “Earth Day,” it sinks and begins leaking two million gallons of oil a day.
May 3, 2010: Responding to public outcry that BP should be held accountable for the Gulf oil spill, Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) warns against jumping to conclusions, claiming that the oil rig explosion was “just an act of God” that could not have been prevented.
An act of God.
Yes, I would agree (though perhaps I would change the phrase to Goddess).
The Gulf oil spill was an act of God–a Goddess who is rising up to stop the insanity. Over centuries of “progress” we’ve forgotten Her; it is time we remember. Humans can be pretty thick-headed, stubborn and selfish. Many of us also require “proof” of things and say, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Apparently it’s going to take some real fireworks to get everyone’s attention. Here comes 2012; sit back and watch the show.
June 16, 2010, only a few days after BP began a new initiative to siphon and capture the oil, a bolt of lightning struck the deck of the containment tanker and set it on fire. That same day another bolt of lightning struck a six-story fiberglass statue of an evangelical Jesus Christ “King of Kings” and burned it to the ground. Perhaps God does not like Her name being used as an excuse for continuing deep water drilling.
These events are sharp reminders: we are not in charge here, Creation is. Cycles of birth and death, of creation and destruction, are the face of Divine. Perhaps our roles in the current cycles of catastrophe are less about trying to figure out how to “change the world” and more about trying to figure out how to “connect with the world.”
I saw a Buddhist bumper sticker once that said, “Don’t just do something, sit there!” The message really resonated with me (and made me laugh). What’s needed in these times is not more action against the onslaught of “what’s wrong with the world” but a deeper connection and relationship with Her. What’s needed is not so much external action, but internal action.
What’s needed is a revolution of heart.
When this occurs, everything else falls into place. Hearts connected to the spirits of the land can never destroy the land. Hearts connected to the hearts of fellow humans cannot exploit those humans. When we recognize and embrace our true role in the web of creation, we can recognize and embrace the roles of all beings around us. As they say to each other (no matter the species) on Pandora, “I see you.”
When we live from heart, we suddenly find that we make new choices, take new actions. Indeed, this is the most elemental form of activism from which all other forms must spring if they are to be effective.
Want to change the world? Then help us bring about the Revolution of Heart. Pray. In your prayers don’t ask for an end to the oil spills, an end to the earthquakes, an end to the global warming. Pray that there be an opening in everyone’s heart to the livingness of this world. For that is the solution.
Mother Earth, the Goddess, the Creator, the spirits of all, will take care of the rest.
As she watched Avatar for the second time, Sharon Brown, publisher of Sacred Fire, was surprised to discover that she and Jake Sully have the same birthday, August 24, though she is 168 years his senior.
This article was originally published in Sacred Fire magazine.
Sacred Fire magazine is an initiative of the Sacred Fire Foundation which seeks to help all people re-discover and celebrate the sacred, interconnected nature of life, a perspective held by indigenous peoples and spiritual traditions everywhere which is the source of all personal, cultural and environmental well-being.
Key initiatives include:
- Sacred Fire magazine, which offers a fresh outlook on modern culture by showing the relevance of ancient ways to today’s world
- Ancient Wisdom Rising, a series of gatherings with elders and wisdom keepers that offer hope, healing and renewed relationship with our sacred world
- Sacred Fire Press, a book imprint that preserves and presents spiritual teachings from ancient and original sources
- Wisdom Fellowships, bi-annual awards to tradition holders who are keeping the sacred fires of their people burning.
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