It’s about love, Stupid

August 25, 2009 : General Team Building

Footprint Consulting Ltd is an ethical enterprise established in 2003 to “promote ecological sustainability and social justice through personal and organisational development.”  Footprint supported Maximillion with the development of Eden, created to encourage organisations to think about sustainable business, and attended our Indie screening of “Age of Stupid”.

In his blog, Osbert Lancaster, director of Footprint, discusses a new film, “Home”, which takes a very different approach from “Age of Stupid”.

“When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data.

“But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.”

So says Paul Hawken, one of my sustainability heroes. I expect these words resonate for many of us – we know things are bad but we’re still inspired and encouraged by the action that so many people are taking.

We often feel that if only more people knew the facts, they too would wake up, act differently and help bring about the change that is so urgently needed.

Unfortunately there’s little evidence that just giving people the ‘facts’ actually changes their beliefs or their behaviour.

If rational argument doesn’t work, what does? Emotion? Some argue that if people are frightened enough of climate change, then they’ll believe and take action.

“Age of Stupid” takes this approach. My, admittedly anecdotal, evidence from speaking to people who’ve seen the film is that “Age of Stupid” does motivate still further people who are already convinced of the need to address climate change – because it reinforces their existing beliefs. But people who don’t already ‘get it’ just come away depressed and demotivated.

If fear doesn’t work, how about love?

This is the approach taken with “Home”, a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, best known for his photographs of ‘the Earth from above’.

I can’t help seeing “Home” as a tragic love story of how, in dominating our beloved, beautiful Earth, we are destroying everything that makes her special – and how only now are we realising that we depend on her absolutely.

The film is deceptively simple with just three elements: awe-inspiring film footage of the world taken from helicopter and hot air balloon; the narrator’s voice telling a simple, factual story of the Earth since the birth of live; and beautiful haunting music.

The story is simple too:

  • The world is beautiful and ‘wonder-full’
  • Humans and all forms of life are intimately interconnected and dependent on each other
  • Our ways of life are destroying this world, our home, of which we are a part, and on which we depend
  • Now it’s time to be inspired by the many examples of ecological and social renewal

“Be the change you want to see in the world” – Gandhi

What I find really interesting about “Home” is how the film embodies Gandhi’s precept in the way it communicates. If you want people to treat the Earth with respect, treat them with respect – don’t tell them they’re stupid. If you want people to be hopeful, give them hope – not fear.

“Home” doesn’t blame anyone for the mess we’ve collectively got ourselves into. The changes we’ve inflicted on the Earth were largely done with good intentions – and indeed are often magnificent, if perhaps misguided, human achievements.

But what’s happened has happened – there’s no point in blaming others, or beating ourselves up about it. It’s time to open our eyes to the beauty and wonder of the Earth. It’s time to work with and for the Earth to save ourselves. It’s time to stop dominating the Earth, and instead to respect and love the Earth for what she is.

It’s time for Home

I found “Home” a powerful and inspiring film. The style and message may not touch everyone in the same way, but do watch it and see what you make of it.

“Home” is freely available on YouTube in (surprisingly) High Definition. It’s worth making time to watch a chunk of the film – just dipping in for thirty seconds between email won’t do the film justice.

Like most films about the environmental and social challenges we face, a group screening would really benefit from a discussion afterwards. I’d be happy to facilitate a discussion exploring what the film means for us and how, in the face of the data, we can try to move forward with hope.

Osbert Lancaster is a Director of Footprint Consulting Ltd, where he helps organisations find and follow paths to more sustainable futures.

Paul Hawken quote from his Commencement Address to the Class of 2009, University of Portland, 3rd May 2009

Read more about Maximillion’s approach to sustainable business.

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