The Spiritual Revolution


Spiritual Health vs. Physical Health

I don't think the kind of superficial, visceral, amazing and amusing entertainment Hollywood creates is inherently unhealthy. It only turns unhealthy when this kind of entertainment becomes the norm in a culture. Just like eating sweets or drinking beer or smoking cigarettes once in a while won't kill you, it's also ok to watch a "fun" Hollywood movie here and there; but it's important not to overindulge. We must eat our vegetables too. Art – either in the form of a film or some other medium – needs to be a part of a person's daily diet, and the majority of the people in the world don’t realize this.

 

I seriously believe that the Surgeon General should make the studios put a warning at the beginning of Hollywood films that says, "Watching this movie will make you mentally numb and passively complacent" (something like this). In fact, I feel that habitually watching Hollywood movies can be more dangerous than smoking cigarettes. Forget about the tobacco industry...it's the FILM industry that's killing millions of lives per year – not physically, of course, but mentally (and spiritually).

 

The problem is that people (especially in America) are more worried about their physical health than their mental health and a good debate can be had over which form of health is more important in the long run. I personally feel the mental atrophy and passive complacency that Hollywood entertainment triggers is more detrimental to a person’s health than anything that causes a physical problem or illness. Why even BE physically healthy if your mind isn't active? There's no point, as far as I can see. Your body might as well be dead if the mind is dead.

 

Spiritual Poverty vs. Financial Poverty

I realize that helping someone like a drug addict or a homeless person is important, but I don't think the importance of such a charity is anywhere near the same ballpark-range as what artists are trying to do. Artists try to save people's souls and if you don't have a healthy soul, then I don't care what problem you have - whether it's with poverty or with drugs or whatever - you might as well be dead.

 

Most people are still conditioned by - what I see as - the huge mainstream misinterpretation of the Bible that has come to view financial poverty as being worse than spiritual poverty (in fact, most people probably wouldn't even think of viewing poverty in spiritual terms). If you don't have a place to sleep, that's definitely tough, but you can still express yourself. If you have a place to sleep but don't express yourself, you're poorer than the person without the bed. The world simply has to start viewing spiritual poverty as being more grave a situation than financial poverty.

 

This doesn't mean that I think giving money to the poor is unimportant, though I don't have much respect for all those celebrities who give millions and millions of dollars to all the various socially-acceptable charities (Red Cross, Jimmy Fund, tsunami relief etc.). There are two reasons why this bothers me. First, these celebrities don't seem to take the time out of their busy schedules to actually think about which charities need their help the most; instead, they just give to the ones that popular opinion says are the neediest, and nine-times-out-of-ten, these charities are devoted to helping the financially poor, not the spiritually poor. Second, if these celebrities actually want to do something truly beneficial to the world, all most of them have to do is stop exposing their culture with such distracting entertainment and banal mind-numbing junk; that is, they have to stop helping their culture become spiritually poor.

 

Besides, I believe helping the spiritually poor, in an indirect way, is the key to helping the financially poor as well. If we didn't live in such spiritless cultures, there wouldn't be so much economic disparity among people and nations, because people would realize that money and economy don't make up the meaning of life, that the only money we need is what we need to feed, clothe and shelter us, that the meaning of life simply involves expressing oneself, not maximizing profit and making the most money one possibly can in a lifetime (as the dominant capitalist mindset in America, and much of the rest of the world, would seem to suggest).

 

To What Extent can Spiritual Charity Change the World?

I realize that a good chunk of people are doomed to a prison where they're unable to express themselves and there's probably no hope of ever saving them. But I also believe there are several - what I call - "swing-states" out there: people who could go either way if confronted with a choice. And the reality of the matter is that they AREN'T confronted with a choice. The majority of people are all brought up and schooled within an environment that basically values good decisions as those that will make money and bad decisions as those that will lose money. If an alternative to this way of thinking presents itself and doesn't seem as radical and foolish as it does in today's world, I think more people will go with it. One of the jobs that I feel I want to do is make this alternative way of thinking (i.e. that expressing oneself is more important than making money) more a part of the mainstream and to help all those swing states out there swing the right way. If we get as many people as we can to go in the better direction, the world will be a much better place. Our charities must be channeled into this endeavor. This is spiritual philanthropy.

 

I basically want to work in Hollywood for this very reason: it enables me to give everyone in the culture (at least potentially) the chance to swing in a better direction and live a more meaningful life before they leave the earth - easier said than done, of course. It's very ambitious of me. Maybe it's naive too, but I always thought 'naive' was a word some old fart invented as a way to convince himself that working a nine-to-five job in the day, watching the baseball game in the evening and listening to a half-hour long sermon on Sundays was all that was required of him in order to be a respectable citizen! Huzah!

 

Anyway, it's important that this kind of spiritual revolution (call it what you will) happens in today's world more than in any other time period, because the near-future holds nothing in store for us but a gigantic recession of economic resources. Think about how fast the world (mainly lead by America) has progressed in the past 100 years. And think about how many resources have been eaten up in the process. Oil, which is basically the backbone to all economic prosperity, just won't be available for much longer, and if it is, it will cost tons of money per gallon. If people don't stop valuing money as much as they do, then there won't be anything to do but despair when the prospect of economic prosperity just isn't part of their reality anymore. People need to realize that expressing themselves in some way (either through creating a piece of art or through something as simple as male-female relationships, raising children or whatever) is what makes up the meaning of life. And it doesn't take economic prosperity to express yourself.

 


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