What makes us human? Is it the simple fact that unlike any other species we carry the blessing and the curse of self-reflection? Do we all have an individual purpose in life? And if so, is our happiness bound to the achievement of that purpose? And if it is in our nature to give and receive love, why can’t we manage to live in peace?
Last night, I have watched the impressive and moving documentary of the genius director Yann-Arthus Bertrand, who has also directed “Home – the movie”. The two and a half hour masterpiece features opulent aerial images, almost a signature move from Betrand. Unlike what our perceptual patterns are used to, there is no plot or action, the movie mostly consists out of interviews of very different people speaking about their experiences.
Bertrand collected stories of over 2000 people from more than 60 countries and the sheer amount of authentic, genuine and warm-hearted individuals is at times both troubling and fascinating. Sad stories from war, death, revenge and the worst traits of the human race. Stories of love, forgiveness, about growth and about concluding peace with oneself. And about what makes our life meaningful, how we can achieve happiness and the obstacles along our way.
I think, everybody would take away something different from this documentary. From my personal view, I found it most remarkable, how the viewpoints from a variety of people with completely different backgrounds merge into one message. That violence is never the nature of a single individual. That ultimately, we all strive to love and to be loved back and that an unimpaired partnership or family is the only way for profound and lasting happiness. That love almost always also includes forgiveness.
But besides, I am often startled and not even capable to understand and empathise how tough the life of many is. What is remarkable though, that the US or European citizens interviewed somehow all seem to struggle with the question of how their life could get a meaning and why they cannot find their purpose on this planet. In my very personal opinion media and the entertainment industry has sold us the idea of being specially created for a sole purpose. And seemingly the burden of not being “special”, of not leaving “footprints” in the history of mankind is lying heavy on us.
Personally I believe that given the fact, that soon enough we will be 10 billion people on this planet and only very few will break world records, win olympic gold or find a cure for a deadly disease, this concept is not very appealing. Maybe the idea of an individual purpose in life is tempting and gives us guidance, but as almost everything in life your personal way in life shouldn’t be related on how others value it.
Watch Human. It will make you question things, but isn’t that what being human is about?