Slant by Noah

Slant by Noah
"Hmm… I don't see any slant."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Stand Still Day 2009

Happy Earth Day everybody! I wish I could say that without so much sarcasm welling up inside.

I just watched the 2008 version of The Day the Earth Stood Still, starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly, in which stunning visual effects were welded onto Hollywood-style commercialism, calling to mind movies like Minority Report or Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. It’s momentarily entertaining but less than inspiring.

Be warned: my following comments contain spoilers. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but I’ll spill parts of the plot that the director withholds until the midpoint.

I involuntarily snickered when it was revealed that an object hurtling through space would impact Manhattan. Why are movie makers and story tellers so obsessed with New York. It seems that no apocalyptic story can possibly be portrayed without asking, “How will this affect our beloved Gotham?!?”

I guffawed a little later when the object didn’t crash, but gently landed in the middle of Central Park. Here’s a tip for you screen writers and directors in your elitist NY and LA bubbles, from one of us in Flyover Country: your universally beloved, globally recognized landmark is a worn out cliché.

I laughed out loud when the alien being, Klaatu, portrayed robotically by Reeves, stated his intention to address the United Nations. The Secretary of Defense tried to debrief the alien, who asked, “Do you speak for the entire human race?” Are you seeing a theme here? Where else would a superior alien address the world, if not in our Earth’s gleaming capital city, the seat of industry and power and government in the new world order. And of course the UN speaks for the human race!

In both versions of this movie, Klaatu is intended as a metaphorical type of Jesus Christ. He descends from the heavens to save the world. In the 1951 version, he takes the name Carpenter. He is tender and sympathetic to Helen and Robbie Benson, as Jesus was to widows and children. Klaatu has come to judge and cleanse the world. But in this new version, he is only concerned with humanity’s crimes against the environment. And his pronouncement is the most revealing moment in the entire story: he has decided that the earth is far too valuable a resource and the human inhabitants would be a small sacrifice to save this glittering blue gem. This brings me to my point — and to the end of any spoilers.
And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine. And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words. For behold, this is my work and my glory — to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. (Moses 1:39)
God’s children are His crowning creation, made in His likeness and image. Doubt not that He created a perfect earth and filled it with everything necessary to carry out their probation.
For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves. (D&C 104:17)
He gave Adam “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26) As Thomas S. Monson wrote in the April 1990 Ensign, “Earth [is]a proving ground, a testing station, a provider of needed experience. We laugh, we cry, we work, we play, we love, we live. And then we die. And dead we would remain but for one man and his mission, even Jesus of Nazareth.”

These verses shine a clear light on the backward message of those who value the environment or animals over human life. Even the basest, cruelest man on earth is a child of God and has a place in His plan. It’s easy to lose this perspective. We live in the times Isaiah foresaw when morality would be turned on its head, prompting him to write, “Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil, that put darkness for light, and light for darkness, that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Beware the subtle temptation to think of the modern environmentalist movement as purely secular. We must closely scrutinize any fashion or movement which invites its followers to devalue human life. As a side note, consider the close ties between modern environmentalism and the resurgent Zero Population movement. The Times Online recently reported that Jonathon Porritt, a leading green advisor to Prime Minister Gordon Brown, speaking for something called the Optimum Population Trust when he recommended that Great Britain must reduce its population by at least half if it is to build a sustainable society. “Population growth, plus economic growth, is putting the world under terrible pressure. Each person in Britain has far more impact on the environment than those in developing countries so cutting our population is one way to reduce that impact.”

May I suggest a philosophy that is more caring of the earth and less wobbly than the global warming crowd? The Boy Scouts of America, embraced for the last 96 years by the LDS Church as a means to provide training and worthwhile leisure time to young men, teaches the Outdoor Code to its ranks.
As an American, I will do my best to
Be clean in my outdoor manners,
Be careful with fire,
Be considerate in the outdoors, and
Be conservation-minded.
The Outdoor Code is individually and inwardly focused. “I will do my best….” Contrast this with environmentalists seeking to control others and limit freedom through litigation and legislation, trying to force their own moral code onto the rest of the world. I for one, will forever be a dedicated conservationist and stay true to the simple principles I learned as a scout and shun the dogma of the modern environmentalist movement.


Kiersten said...

Very nicely written Seth. You just put into words all the reasons why I cringe at people who say man will eventually use up and destroy earth and her resources, or that the sun will eventually run out of energy. Seems a useless perspective to remain in when the whole point of this place was for God's children, and a faithless one at that to assume that Father wouldn't plan it and create it perfectly. The again, if He did plan for us to use it up and war it out, then that's perfect too.

I wish people saw the Earth as the mother she is rather than a victim and turned Earth Day into a gratitude consciousness. So much more positive action comes from gratitude than fear.

Seth said...

Thanks, Kiersten. I’m glad — and a tiny bit surprised — to find you in such agreement. I love the personification when you say the earth shouldn’t be seen as a victim. Brilliant.

Also, when you refer to Earth “as the mother she is,” I wonder if you are writing metaphorically. It made me think of how the earth is a provider for all living creatures. Did you mean anything more than that?