Friday, May 18, 2007
Children of Men
It's not often that a movie affects me so much that I just burst with the need to organise my thoughts on paper, or in this case, on blog. Children of Men has had such an effect. This apocalyptic vision of a world without children, without hope and without humanity was so distressing yet it wasn't so surreal that I didn't think our society could already be on such a crash-course.
The premise is a world where a mysterious plague of infertility has eradicated the world of children. Such nihilism ensues that most of the planet has fallen into anarchy, except for the UK which maintains a poor semblance of normality. But the cost of this 'normality' is the forced internment of any and all refugees who try to escape to the UK (sound familiar?). The landscape is stark, colourless and heavily polluted, as if human kind has given up hope for itself and the future and has flung itself headlong into careless abandon.
It wasn't just the scenes of refugees, both old and young, black and white, being rounded into cages, brutalised and finally interned in chaotic camps that struck a chord. It was the sense that humanity had given up hope, and decided to stop caring. It was all about the haves and the have-nots, us and them. It was the sense that this slide has already begun in our own society.
Those of us lucky enough to be born or live in the West have everything. We (and I include myself in this) occasionally feel that we might struggle, that it's hard, that we can't get what we want, but when compared to a fisherman in Bangladesh, or a single mother with four kids in Sudan, we have so much it's almost obscene. Yet our government, who we as a nation voted in, wants to close our borders to refugees arguing that our country, our economy, cannot sustain them and us at the same time. How can they possibly argue that when most people in this nation have more than one television? When we throw out half the food we buy because we don't get around to eating it in time? When we upgrade our cars every few years to have the latest model?
And equally, it makes me ill when I hear the Australian and US governments argue that complying with the Kyoto Protocol will be too damaging to our economies. What right does the West have to soil the planet in pursuit of luxury, then deny any responsibility?
I live in the mountains, so I'm unlikely to be affected by rising sea levels. It's pretty cold and wet up here at the moment, so it would be easy to think that when the impact of climate change is felt here, it won't be so bad. It's easy to stick my head in the sand. But the rice I cooked last night comes from a part of the country that is already so dry we are destroying our natural river systems just to keep it functioning. So much of what I take for granted will become a scarce resource within my lifetime.
Even worse than that, and far more important, is the sense that just about everything I do as a priveleged Westerner will mean death for someone in the developing world. When I turn on the heating because I'm a little cold in my cotton top, the resulting greenhouse gas emissions contribute to global warming, rising sea levels and the watery destruction of a fishing village in Bangladesh.
I want to feel responsible. I want to feel guilty. I want to judge my every decision and my every purchase by how much destruction it is going to cause. Until our society and our government starts to do that, I'm terrified that the world of Children of Men will be upon us before we can blink.