I just saw the film “Elemental” and found it to be the most profound I have seen to date. And I have seen a lot of documentaries and movies in my lifetime.
My heart broke open in witness to the lives of these 3 committed visionary people, and I cried more tears than would fill a tissue box. Oh great, you say, why should I watch a film that will make me cry for 2 hours? Possibly you won’t react the way I did.
Why do we turn away so easily at this tremendous grief we are going through as a nature-disconnected society? I feel it is more important for us to allow ourselves to channel this grief through us. And then stand.
The film does not point fingers, except possibly to the idea that corporations are NOT people and never will be.
The film ends in hope for solidarity, community action, and the power of reawakening the seed of caring for Mother Life within us. It also acknowledges the complexities of our limited choices in our way of life. If we need to pay rent, have a car, fly in an airplane, eat fast food (as even the activists in the film do), support ourselves in our nature-disconnected ways, how many choices do we really have?
As humans on a spinning piece of rock through the universe, if we need to do something about the atmosphere we are disrupting, this film includes one possible engineering biomimicry solution, but does not touch the foundation of the lifestyle that creates the pollution. What choices do we really have short of changing our entire way of life and returning fully to nature’s patient support? That’s too extreme, right?
Part of why this film touched my heart so deeply was my own experience of watching children go through treatment for cancers from possible environmental causes, and spending most of a year living among primarily Native Americans and Hispanic people from communities directly impacted by high chemical use and toxic dumping grounds. While I was living communally with these folks 9 years ago, I was so convinced someone should be alerted to this “cluster” of childhood cancers I was seeing that I contacted a chief epidemiologist (folks who study disease patterns and causes in populations) at my local university to ask what he thought about the numbers I reported. He responded that “clusters” are interesting phenomenon that are of little use to epidemiologists as far as cause and effect.
Even though I was shaking my head, I saw his point. I do understand it would be nearly impossible to test for every toxin out there and determine cause and effects. But living among this population forever changed my personal awareness of some of the issues facing indigenous populations and agricultural families. And I did also live with a non-indigenous family who raised their child with cancer completely on well water, far away from a city, with only the best organic foods and no media. So maybe the big picture is much more complex than we imagine.
The film reinforces all that I know about the healing power of nature and doing some tiny part to help people reconnect. A hermit at the foot of the Himalayans probably said it best in the film when she spoke of good and evil coexisting and that as long as we do what we do for the love of nature and remain detached from the outcome, our efforts have some chance. The day I break free of my own cubicle lifestyle that keeps me in the shelter/food/heat/transport game, I will finally be living in harmony with what I experience Earth is trying to tell me. I wonder if this harmony is even possible anymore for any of us, but I know I have to try in small ways each day to touch it.