Art follows life, or does life follow art? This question seems nowhere more relevant than in the case of movies. Movies are the depiction of life. The characters in some cases are so relatable, that people have seen themselves on the movie screen. They learn lessons, find out their own mistakes, and understand more about life. Why? It is because they have had a chance to become observers of their own lives. They have a chance to study themselves; maybe even laugh their own idiosyncrasies. So close can be the relation between movies and real life.
Even in an outlandish setting and the entire plot set in fiction, there is something about one or more characters that register with a viewer. There are words, expressions, gestures, qualities, virtues, or vices that keep touching real life. There is no plot that can absolutely abandon any contact with reality as we know it. But we must also remember that our imagination is touching our reality is complex and subtle ways.
The characters know in advance
Yes, this is the whole argument. A movie has to follow a script or a general plot. Even if during a conversation, there is a spontaneous exchange or a deep expression of raw emotion, an actor is always working with a knowledge of outcomes. This advance knowledge separates movie characters and movies from real life. Real life is not supposed to have a plot or a script. We start each day with some certainty, but a lot of uncertainties. We trust the sun to rise, for the rivers to flow, and for the birds to fly. We know, this is how the world has been and will continue to be. Even if major changes take place, we are rooted in some certainty. At no point though, can a person claim specific knowledge of events and outcomes, unless for having received special knowledge. Isn’t it true?
We have special knowledge now
By means of the release of classified information through sites like Wikipedia or through whistleblowers, the general public came to have special knowledge. This was not meant for the eyes of the people. Then we also have social networks and round-the-clock news. There is real-time information of what is happening in any corner of the world. This too is special knowledge. It has never happened in the millenniums of human history on this scale, and for the common people. If one considers the prophets and holy men of old who could foretell events, then it is a different matter altogether. Even in this age of disbelief and skepticism, we are beholden to those ancient pronouncements.
There are billions of people today. We can witness the unfolding of events. We are witnessing the existence of nations and civilizations as were written about in scriptural writings. The Bible, for instance, speaks of many places that exist even today. There are foretold blessings for towns and nations, and disaster for others. The kind of developments we see today resembles the events and conditions of the end times. So here are a few things to think about:
- Why attempt for one’s own doom?
- Why is it that efforts, for or against, seem to be leading in a direction of disaster? Why are specific attitudes and actions coming to the fore despite having historical precedents of them having caused great harm?
- Is there an escape?
While the character in a movie might have died according to a script, he knows, even his death is unreal. No matter how convincing his death, the actor, and mature viewers know, the actor will remain alive. However, to have the same certainty about the life and future prospects of an individual is simply beyond demonstrable evidence that no one can deny. If there is such demonstrable evidence, it will be plain for all to see, even the unbelievers. For the ones who have such extraordinary confidence, they have to be fearless of death, as much as an actor in a movie is. Aside from such absolute confidence and evidence for it, to plan one’s own doom and that of others is the greatest foolishness possible.
Like in a movie, where, we have distinct characters of good and bad roles or some complex characters that challenge our views, we have such in real life too. The noteworthy fact remains, that certain actions have a very decisive nature and the results are black-or-white. During times of ease, one can consider the nuances of thought and behavior, but during crises, there isn’t such a possibility. This is what happens during extreme frustration and disappointment.
We want to remember, that we have much freedom and choice. We want to remember that our actions have possibly irreversible consequences. Having this understanding, should we not choose to give ourselves, others, and all living creatures the best possible opportunity. No selfish act in a movie can equal the real consequences of human greed that we are actually seeing today.
Why is it that efforts, for or against, seem to be leading in a direction of disaster? Why are specific attitudes and actions coming to the fore despite having historical precedents of them having caused great harm?
We have today, people with all different sets of belief, disbelief, and no specific belief other than to live for the day. Being part of a religion or organization does nothing to ensure what one might believe in, or what one might do in practice. So, what happens is, we have conflicting actions and beliefs. Despite this, we have the same attitudes and responses that were somehow within the realm of expectation, kind of like when there is an existing plot of a movie. If when explores at the psychological level alone, one can see how the ideas of atheism, or evolution, or considering homosexuality as normal might have developed. Other reasons – physical, spiritual, social, and intellectual – also exist, and would be more difficult to examine down to the level of each specific individual.
Aside from the natural phenomena that are happening, whether we attribute those to climate change or fulfillment of prophecy, the end result is the same. We are experiencing, what we are experiencing. It doesn’t matter what we call it, or if we claim to have some kind of solution to these superhuman issues. It seems, we are constantly delaying some inevitability, whether we look through the eyes of science or through religion.
More interesting than natural phenomena are the specific goals and aspirations of people. People led by faith or belief ultimately have certain goals and aspirations determined by those factors. They have moral regards and conscientious concerns if the faith and belief are sincere. On the other hand, those moral regards and concerns have no foundation to remain, unless for some very personal reasons. Why does a person not steal? Why does he not kill? What will prevent him from reasoning differently than he does today? Maybe this person would subscribe to some new set of ideas that appeal to his mind, and he could change loyalties as it suits him. Is that not possible! We are finding predictable changes in human thinking, in the existence of a world that no one could have accurately predicted even a few decades ago.
Believing in humans instead of God
It is easier to believe in humans, for the simple reason that human beings of flesh and blood are before our eyes. We can observe them through our physical senses. It is not the same for God, for God is a legitimate concept, but it starts beyond the physical senses of humans. For God to be in the flesh, is a most revolutionary thought! Is it not?
Human beings today have felt deceived by other humans – those who are leaders in politics or religion. But humans have also felt deceived by the unfulfilled promises of whichever God they believe in, especially a personal God. Not in terms of some miracles in their own lives, perhaps, but in terms of God fulfilling His purposes for all the creatures on Earth…humans feel cheated and tired. In this frustration and impatience, we see exactly the behaviors and choices as predicted. This is like watching a movie, the plot of which we know in advance.
One can understand why believers act a certain way. One could argue that they have been conditioned to think and respond – programmed by their religious teachings. However, unbelievers should not have any programming, and yet they behave and act in predictable ways. Why does this happen?
Where mankind is heading isn’t entirely unforeseeable. People differ in their expectations of timing, but it is quite clear to onlookers how our actions and goals are unsustainable. Population increase, reliance on fossil fuels, consumerism, capitalistic greed, deforestation, loss of rivers, climate change etc. are real factors eliciting concern. On the other hand are human achievements of great understanding of science, architecture, refined arts, development of the Internet etc. Is it possible to use our collective development to offset the damages, or even prevent a calamitous outcome? Think about it. If we don’t think now, we may not ever have a chance. There is everything to lose, and much to preserve. Of what we can preserve, there are assets that are irreplaceable even on a universal scale, as far as we know the existing universe! Let alone finding the diversity of life as we see here, we are yet to find any life aside from this Earth.
Aside from human foolishness, greed, and short-sightedness, there is much reason for optimism. If we think that the future of this planet and all life on it is in the hands of incompetent leaders as we see today, then there is no escape, no matter how much we wish. When I see this world, I see absolutely clear evidence of God, the Creator. One can see it everywhere – in the wildness of the lions, in the flight of an eagle, in the lowly centipede, in the cows, in the rivers, in the sky, in the sun, in the blades of grass, in the failing health of humans, in the decline of morals, in the cluelessness of governments, in the light and in the dark… There is what can be learned of God in understanding the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or the attributes of God spread through the myriads of God in the pagan religions. The Giver of life is able to see the inside of each person – the individual – apart from belief, faith, color, gender, language, or any other distinguishing characteristic. I am sure, He knows the future. He knows how the movie ends, even if He is not directing every scene of every creature’s life.