The Movie Baraka as Evidence of a Human Cultural Legacy

April 24, 2006 by aaron

The movie Baraka shows us that humans are not extremely different, but rather that all humans are and must be thought of as interrelated. The movie explores the many ways that human societies adapt to their surroundings, and in doing so, it also shows us that all human societies adapt in similar ways. Although humans themselves are diverse, their diversity pales in comparison to the diversity of the earth itself. The Earth itself has achieved far more diversity than anything a human can imagine ” even aliens in science fiction are based on animals, insects and fish. The human cultural legacy is minute and our existence is naught but a blink in time. That being said, as we are a creation of the earth we do not owe it anything; because, as its creation, we cannot harm it. Of course humans are capable of destroying all life on the planet, but it would recover eventually, and in doing so continue to create new life.

As Baraka shows us there is great diversity throughout human civilization; no two are exactly alike. However, it also shows us that they are remarkably similar. In fact, they are too similar. If humans are completely separate from each other, any two cultures with little to no contact should be entirely different” as much as an octopus is from an eagle. However, elements of every culture are linked. Dances by Native Americans are similar to dances by aboriginal Africans or Pacific Islanders. Of course one could make the argument that random chance has made it this way (after all there are only so many ways one can “shake your groove thing”), but all things being equal if left to random chance only half of cultures should have a form of dance and I’ve never read of one that doesn’t (although this is specifically excluding religious groups that frown on it.)

Baraka tries to make the argument that there is no single cultural legacy but rather all aspects are important. However, the human cultural legacy is worthless. It isn’t something rare and valuable, it does not improve with time, it is destructive and it is selfish. Assuming there is other intelligent life in the universe, they wouldn’t be missing out on much if the entire planet were to disintegrate. Rather than putting our effort into improving the human race as a whole, the vast majority of the human species goes about their time not caring about anything around them. Unfortunately this is not just referring to “lazy” Americans but the entirety of the world. According to Titiev (1959) there are 859 documented cultures. Of these cultures exactly 0 put all the resources of their societies into improving the human species as a whole. It is amusing in my opinion that the only people who try to improve the human species (such as Hitler) are lunatics and murderers trying to shape the world into their perverted idea of perfection while the majority of reasonable people just go about there lives worrying only about themselves. Of course there are a few who are popularized for helping people (Mother Teresa comes to mind) however even she didn’t do anything notable. She only helped a few sick and poor people in India. To really do something worthwhile you must do something that effects the entirety of the human species even if they don’t realize it. The creation of nuclear energy didn’t have a direct effect on the lives of South American’s living in the rain forest; however, should they choose to build their own reactor, it will change their lives dramatically (not necessarily for the better.) Even if Mother Teresa saved ten million of India’s poorest and sickest inhabitants she hasn’t done anything for the human species a whole, just something for that small portion of the Earth’s population. Unfortunately the thought of self and group is inbreed into humans and thus the few that can overcome the pressures from theirs selves and society are the individuals that are worth anything. This is not to say that helping the poor and the sick is not a noble cause; it is a perfectly acceptable use of ones life and serves as a balance between the self and humans as a whole. However, everything dies. A life spent keeping away death is, in the end, a failure because one has only forestalled the inevitable. Of course one could argue that they spent their life warding off discomfort, but a hard blow to the head would have the same result.

Humans have a tendency to think of themselves as unique and as history has shown us time and time again they tend to gather around their “uniqueness” as a battle cry and as an excuse to think less of other groups. Unfortunately while this served humans in their developmental stages I believe this no longer has any place in our society. People like to magnify the differences, but the differences themselves are all artificial ” in other words just because the dance is unique doesn’t make the dancer unique. Unfortunately this is a very unpopular opinion; everything a person is told from birth to death is that they are special, humans are unique and humans are better than the animals. Even in Buddhist or Hindu societies which value all life, humans are still superior and all beings must become human before they can achieve enlightenment. However in the bigger scheme of things the way one-group dances is about as unique as a single grain of sand on the beach. It is only altogether that each grain makes anything special; similarly humans are only special when combined with others. It is not what one human can do that makes them special, but it is what all humans can do if they ever chose to work together.

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