Humanity’s Power

Success

How much power do humans have in this world? Well, it depends on your beliefs and worldview. This is my attempt at sharing my musings on this subject.

From what I’ve observed, here are two beliefs from opposite sides of the spectrum.

Group One: People have the power to change the world through fighting for social justice, cleaning up the environment, and can achieve anything by believing in themselves. It’s through this concerted effort to transform the world into a nonviolent, loving place to live that they believe can truly happen on earth. They don’t need a higher being/God to do this. They just have to desire it and take action to achieve it.

Group Two: No one has any power of his/her own. They go through life relying on God to design their lives, and as long as they follow God’s designs for them, their lives will be good and spared hardships.

Neither of these takes into account natural disasters, wars, sickness, famine, etc. You know the litany of problems people face on this earth. If I add this issue and question the two groups, here’s how they might see this:

Group One: Just about everything can be fixed if humans will just do the right thing mentioned earlier. The natural disasters can be lessened if we took care of our environment and quit using toxic chemicals, relied on clean energy, etc. Wars and famine and sickness would stop because people would unite for the common welfare of all. If enough people do this, we can finally live in peace and love.

Group Two: Things happen for a reason, and that reason is God’s punishing those people who sin and will feel the wrath of God in the destructive winds of the tornado or in the drowning waters of a powerful tsunami. God’s Hand is in all of these actions to make us repent. BUT . . . natural disasters can also just be earth doing its thing, too, because there’s no such thing as climate change.

tidal wave tsunami

Let’s factor in the whole subject of suffering and dying in whatever capacity. Group One would probably see these as cruel, senseless events caused by lack of education, equality, love, and action on our part to stop them from happening.  But sometimes, they have no real answers because death is a part of life. Group Two might respond that it was those people’s time to leave this world. If they’re asked, “What about victims of a massacre or individual murder?” Generally, they don’t have an answer, and for the most part, they’ll be honest and say they don’t.

Then there are the people who fall in the middle who believe disasters and suffering are sometimes of God and other times just nature doing its thing, like the earth’s natural cooling and warming.

earth

Do people have much power to do anything about these catastrophes in the world? I believe there is nature doing its thing and us doing ours and sometimes they are intertwined.

It all starts and stems from where life began—in the Garden when Adam and Eve were created, whether a representation of humanity, or truly a male named Adam and a female named Eve. God gave us free will. It is a loving and crucial gift for us that gives us the ability to reason and make decisions on everything in our lives, including whether to love or reject God. It is my understanding and belief this was the main purpose God gave us free will—for us to freely choose to love Him or not.

God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit represents Love, Peace, and Relationship. God wants a relationship with us. We are not robots or marionettes to which He pulls strings or programs us to act or do something every moment of our lives. No, we have the freedom to choose just about everything in our lives except choosing to not die. We all will. We have to go through this because of the consequences of sin and death that entered the world that is known as the Fall.

adam & eve expulsion from eden

I believe whatever a person does, good or bad (in the sense we humans understand good and bad), it affects all the world and universe. I liken it to the example used in the chaos theory of the butterfly that flaps its wings, and that act of flapping its wings reverberates and echoes through the cosmos, affecting all things in it. Therefore, when a person does something bad, such as kill someone, this is felt throughout the universe.

There is no utopia on earth because earth isn’t God’s Kingdom, as Christians and most non-Christians know. Adam and Eve fell into the temptation of wanting to be just like God, and through pride (arrogance) and disobedience, that caused everything to change for humanity and all of God’s creation.  Making a decision seems to have a lot of power to change the world, doesn’t it?

When humanity sinned, it took the creatures and plants and all down with it to earth, separating all from God’s closeness and grace. This separation was reconciled through Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection.

Getting back to the issues of suffering, wars, and killings. It is my belief that this all springs from two things:

  • Free Will
  • The Fall

Therefore, killings/murders, wars, and whatever things happen in our daily lives are a result of the choices we make good or bad, through God’s gift of free will. We choose to steal that coat at the department store, shoot and kill people, eat more than our stomach  can hold (gluttony), be mean to the person ahead of us in line at the supermarket, etc.  We choose to start wars because of our greed and desire for power over others, anger, etc.

Having said all of that, this does not include people suffering from mental illness because the chemical balance is off in their brains, and unless they’re being treated effectively by psychiatric medications, their brains aren’t functioning correctly.

pink sunset one person free will

God cannot impede on our free will. Father Tom Hopko used to say this in many of his podcasts on Ancient Faith Radio, for which I’ve listened to several.

Then there are the dilemmas of natural disasters, sickness, and famine. Two reasons:

  1. All of humanity is spiritually ill in need of healing, which for me, is found through Jesus Christ, so that we can be made whole and healthy again as we first were made to be.
  2.  We live in a broken, fallen world.

Remember the butterfly example from the chaos theory? Think of that butterfly as a person, and that person does something that separates him/her from God–misses the mark, sins–that sin reverberates through the cosmos because humanity is the conduit between the material and spiritual worlds.   Likewise, if the person does something holy/good, such as loving his/her enemy, or giving food to a starving person, this, too, spreads throughout the universe.

stardust blue

So, if you look at the world from this perspective, you can see through free will, humans do have a great deal of power, and what we are able to do in this fallen world is a result of what we choose to do daily that sends the waves of holiness or sinfulness throughout all existence in the cosmos.

 

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Miyazaki’s Masterpieces Center on the Human Condition

miyazaki movies collage

Have you ever seen any of Studio Ghibli’s animated movies? In particular, Hayao Miyazaki’s animated movies through Studio Ghibli? I know that many of you probably have, but if you haven’t, this blogpost is for you (and for fans of these movies!).  They are drawn in the anime style and are fantastic.  My family has a stack of them sitting in our DVD bookcase.  What makes the movies so superb is their depth, their artwork, and their focus on the human condition.  Below, I go into detail about two specific movies of Miyazaki’s that portrays the characters, their relationships, and good and evil through the lens of the human condition.

In Disney movies, there is a strong distinction between the heroes and the villains, especially the earlier animated ones.  I would go so far as to say many of the villains in Disney movies are two-dimensional, fail to show remorse most of the time, and lack the full makeup of human beings–good and bad qualities.  But with such movies as Spirited Away, the human condition and the more rounded personalities of the characters are present and great to watch.  

Spirited Away

This movie is long, engrossing, and deep.  So deep that you forget you’re watching an animated feature (this is the case for all Miyazaki’s films).  Chihiro, a young, 10-year-old girl is riding with her parents in their car heading for their new house in a new city.  She possesses a bratty mentality who is not happy about moving, which is typical for children who like to stay where they grew up, for the most part (says the daughter of an Air Force officer who moved every two to four years. Haha).  Anyway, her parents and she end up going through a type of stone tunnel that opens up to green hills and a little village with a bunch of shops.  Her parents get caught up in the smell and devouring of delicious food, and their gluttony takes over, transforming them into huge pigs.  Chihiro is left alone, desperate to help her parents.  Later, she becomes an employee at a bathhouse run by a nasty witch who steals people’s names.  Still, aspects of good show through this witch, which makes her more “human” and interesting.  

A teenaged boy, Haku, aids Chihiro using his special powers, as he’s also a white dragon.  And then there’s No Face.  This character doesn’t speak, and appears and disappears in and around the bathhouse where Chihiro works.  He followers Chihiro and tries to give her handfuls of gold, but she isn’t interested.  All those that do take the gold blocks are eaten by No Face.  He becomes gluttonous, and can’t stop eating.  He’s miserable, and he sees Chihiro as the person to save him from this.  Instead of kicking him to the curb for his destructive behavior, she eventually helps him, and his passion is squelched. Also, the witch softens towards the end of the story.  

Through helping others, learning to be independent and resourceful, Chihiro matures and loses the brattiness and ungratefulness that had been part of her at the beginning of the story.  There’s the element of redemption in this that I love–that people aren’t all bad or good, and that they repent and change.  All of these elements in this Japanese movie show Christian aspects but are globally understood because it’s part of humanity and its ability to transform through the love of others that shines the light of Christ, from my perspective.  If you haven’t seen this epic film, I highly recommend it.  Although it’s a “children’s movie,” (I wouldn’t say very young children), it’s for adults, too.

Howl’s Moving Castle

This movie is enchanting.  It, too, is long and engrossing.  Again, you forget this is animated. Main character, Sophie, is a young woman who works with her sisters in her since deceased father’s hat shop until she encounters Howl, the Wizard, and then The Witch of the Waste.  The latter casts a spell on Sophie, turning her into an old woman.  Sophie did not consider herself beautiful, and so, although she isn’t happy she’s been turned wrinkly, it’s the struggle with her aching body that causes her the most difficulty.  She finds herself inHowl’s magic, moving castle and works for him as a cleaning lady.  Throughout this is a war going on in the country where she and the others live.  

Howl suffers from vanity.  He is particular about his hair color, his clothes, and how he looks.  If something comes between him and his appearance, he crumbles, and this happens in one of the scenes.  Black forms of demons slither out and around him while he’s melting in the chair.  Why?  Because he’s allowed his vanity to overtake him, causing him the danger of being destroyed.  But Sophie is there to talk to him and help him.  

Ultimately, Sophie’s compassion toward Howl, the Witch, and other characters brings about remorse and repentance for those characters that were doing evil.  Sophie does not have a high regard for herself and believes herself to be unattractive.  But she grows through dealing with the curse of being old.  I don’t believe she cared that she was old because she didn’t think she was beautiful anyway, so she didn’t lose anything in appearance.  But she learns through helping others, and these people’s respect for her, that she is truly worth something and she learns to like herself.  In return, Howl tells her she’s beautiful and helps her get back home.  If you haven’t seen this one, please do.

Whenever watching these movies, everything around you melts away, and you’re sucked into the storyline, the characters, and the beautiful artistic scenes.

There are plenty of other spectacular Hiyazaki movies that are just as deep, and some a little lighter in content.  Below is a list of the DVDs we own that are all fantastic and enjoyable.

Princess Mononoke (my oldest son’s favorite, and very profound)

Kiki’s Delivery Service

My Neighbor Totoro

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (profound)

From Up On Poppy Hill (my favorite lighter film)

Castle in the Sky

Whisper of the Heart

The Secret World of Arrietty

Porco Rosso

Incidentally, if you’re in to real tear-jerkers, watch this Studio Ghibli movie called Grave of the Fireflies.  It’s a twenty-tissue film, and one I doubt I’ll be able to watch again, but it was incredible.

Take a look at this video that explains Miyazaki’s theme of the human condition in his works.

 

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