My mission a few weekends ago was to find a copy of the documentary I Am, by Tom Shadyac. I had received an email that mentioned the movie and I was reminded of the Oprah episode where she and Shadyac discussed the film and showed clips. Fortunately my hunt was fruitful, my cable company had it available on demand, so I made my purchase, excited to have the opportunity to watch for the next 48 hours!
The movie opens with 2 questions: What’s s wrong with the world; and what can we do about it? Experts from fields such as religion, politics, science, philosophy and psychology are interviewed. These experts include people like David Suzuki, Desmond Tutu, and Noam Chomsky. The introduction also lets the viewer know how Shadyac got to the point of directing the documentary. After a serious bike accident and suffering post-concussion syndrome for months, Shadyac has an epiphany and sees the reduction of his symptoms.
The journey that this movie takes you on gives you a lot to think about. The strongest theme in the movie is that of a universal connection among all living things. What’s wonderful about the discussions on oneness in this movie is that they come from the perspective of science as well as spirituality. As someone states in the movie, “science is now proving what spirituality has known all along – we are all connected.” I thoroughly enjoyed the scene where sensors are placed on yogurt in a petrie dish and there is a dial indicating that the energy levels of the yogurt were affected by the strong emotional reactions of Shadyac himself.
The knowledge that we are all part of one universal life force creates an amazing paradigm shift that the viewer is challenged to accept. If we let go of our belief that we are separate, that what we do in our personal lives has no effect on a global level, what would it look like? Would we be able to see a homeless person on the street and be okay with it? Could we continue to know that there is so much injustice in the world and believe that we are powerless to do anything about it?
The message in the movie is that human beings were not created to be “okay” with the suffering of their kin. The evidence illustrates that human beings were created as compassionate, loving, peaceful creatures rather than the war mongering, competitive, destructive creatures that we are often portrayed as in the media. Scientists point to the vegas nerve, hardwired to experience compassion for others to prove our true nature. I love the Rumi quote given in the movie: “how could we possibly go to war if the beloved is in everyone?”
We have been conditioned to believe that conflict and competition are human nature. Darwin’s theories on natural selection and survival of the fittest are often used to explain this behaviour. What I didn’t know until watching this documentary is that these theories weren’t the end all and be all of Darwin’s work. It is mentioned that in his book The Descent of Man, he states that sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. It is also said that the notion of “survival of the fittest” appears in the book a total of 2 times and the concept of love is mentioned 95 times! I was completely baffled by this information and it really made me wonder why those who have studied Darwin’s work have chosen to emphasize the “dark side” of humans rather than the light? What is the benefit?
This documentary has left me completely inspired. I feel like it was divine inspiration that led me to seek and find this movie on a Saturday night when I had nothing else going on. The participants were great and so was the imagery. Seeing the image in Tiananmen Square facing off against the tanks reminded me that one person can make a difference. Watching clips of a freed Nelson Mandela reminded me that patience and hard work really do pay off.
I believe that this movie will be listed as one of those “must see” films for those pursuing a spiritual path. Like “What the Bleep”, and Wayne Dyer’s “The Shift”, this documentary provides an abundance of knowledge in an entertaining way. It is my intention to one day answer the question of “what right with the world” with the same response Tom Shadyac suggests at the end of the film – I am. ♥