Recently (as of this post, that is ?), my mom, sister and I had the amazing blessing of visting Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – The World Of Avatar.
As soon as I heard that Pandora would be opening in Walt Disney World, I was ecstatic! ? To say that I love the movie Avatar (released in theaters the year of 2009), would be a HUGE understatement.
The reason I am such a big fan of the film is because it opens our eyes to the fact that just because we are on this earth does NOT by any means give us the right to let it die; that we are stewards of this planet, but not owners; that we have a responsibility to care for and nurture this wonderful place we all share.
When I got to finally visit Pandora, I was in LOVE. I couldn’t stop taking footage of the breathtaking world around me. I enjoyed going on the Na’vi River Ride, in which my family and I took a boat to tour around the Bio-luminescent Pandoran River and heard lovely Na’vi music, but my favorite part was the Flight Of Passage (which also, coincidentally, had the longest line. ?)
The Flight Of Passage is an amazing Banshee ride, in which you are taken through several stages throughout the line: A cave filled with art and baskets, a glowing Rain Forest, and a lab with an actual Avatar! When you arrive at the ride, you get seated and enjoy a 3D interactive, almost VR experience flying on BANSHEE!!!!!! ? It was incredible.
I am in awe of the gorgeous world that has been created. James Cameron, who wrote, produced and directed the film, remarked about Pandora:
“Anyone can visit Pandora in all its majesty. And when they do, they can learn about the Na’vii culture and all their values. The Na’vi have a spiritual connection with their world. Pandora and Disney’s Animal Kingdom both inspire us to understand and respect the natural world and our place in it.”
“Animal Kingdom is founded on this idea that we’re going to be fascinated by and curious about nature. It really just reminds you how amazing our own world is,” Cameron gushed. “So Pandora nested within Animal Kingdom, I think is genius.”
The World Of Pandora is so amazing because of the lush and beautiful nature represented and the rich culture displayed throughout the land. The reason Pandora is so impactful to me is because of how it encourages awareness of our earth and protecting the environment, and ultimately, our planet.
But what does protecting our planet really mean? That one word, conservation, that is used so often that it might seem insignificant? What does it say to you? What do we celebrate when Earth Day ? comes around each year? Is it just another meaningless holiday, when people plant gardens and trees and post online about how wonderful Earth is, but then forget why they did all those things?
And then, we go back to our daily lives, thinking of ourselves and our businesses and our factories, our families, the fun things we’ve planned for the weekend, our complaints and our worries. What does it ALL MEAN? No, I’m not judging you, for I am the same way, thinking of my own, very often selfish and petty needs and wants, sometimes never stopping to THINK about my life’s decisions and how they affect everyone – and everything- else.
When we talk about recycling, reducing, and reusing, what does it mean? When we speak of turning off lights in the house, and using less electricity, and repurposing, what DOES IT MEAN?
When Cameron was asked in an interview about one of the biggest dangers in society right now, he declared:
“I think our disregard for natural systems and our kind of overshoot as a species consuming everything in sight. I think that the real battle of the future, philosophically, is gonna be between the takers and the caretakers.
The takers are ascendant right now because in their mind, if you’re not a taker, you’re a loser…. We know for sure that the big danger is our overshoot as a species, as a civilization.”
Truth rings in his words. We are the biggest hazard to earth because of our single-minded way of thinking. Protecting our planet ? , or rather, preserving it, is far more complex and also far simpler than it seems. To me, it all comes down to one word: AWARENESS.
Consciousness, recognition, realization, grasp, appreciation, knowledge, insight, understanding, and familiarity are among the synonyms of the word ‘Awareness’.
Awareness means to KNOW something, sure, but it’s more than that. It’s being PASSIONATE about something. It’s being CONCERNED, it’s DOING SOMETHING about whatever you are passionate about, making a difference, however small it may seem.
You see, when you are AWARE of our planet earth, and how our choices impact her, you will CHANGE your decisions for the better, and influence others in turn.
You are also aware of how much we truly NEED our earth. How wonderful our earth is, how vital, how glorious. We never truly realize how much we take for granted our earth, until we see what it means for us.
In a song sung by Pocahontas, a Native American warrior princess in a Disney animated film, she describes perfectly the modern attitude versus the attitude of awareness:
“You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew“
Pocahontas further sings about how we should appreciate the earth without wondering what it’s worth, that we are all connected to each other in nature, and whether we are ‘white or copper skinned’, we can make peace with each other and the earth.
Awareness, as Pocahontas shows us, is the care, love, and concern for all beings, and it is the answer to all our problems. As Ban Ki-moon put it:
“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
We can make the world a better place, though it may seem near impossible, and we CAN become AWARE of our surroundings, who we are, who we can become, and and the difference we can make.
What Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Master and Vietnamese monk, has said about Awareness, or really have made an impression on me, as well.
“We need enlightenment, not just individually but collectively, to save the planet. We need to awaken ourselves. We need to practice mindfulness if we want to have a future, if we want to save ourselves and the planet.”
I invite you, as well as the whole of humanity, to become truly AWARE of yourself, your life, your environment, and your earth. It is our sacred and beautiful responsibility to take care of this planet. It is a gift to us, and we must treat it well, for we all depend on it, too!