To Save The World You Have To Save Yourself

When we talk about saving the world we think about the planet and what we’re doing to it. Global warming, global cooling, resources, population, the list goes on. There are so many people trying to save it, coming up with solutions and innovations, making sure they recycle or upcycle, making films about species decline and polar ice caps melting, that we should be well on our way to remission.

But the world is such a huge place. There are so many of us. It’s such a massive problem. Where do you start?

With the premise: Human existence is threatened and it’s a race against time for one aspiring hero. Save the earth or die trying.

Interview with Lorraine Kelly after the release of The Day After Tomorrow

Or to put it another way:

We need the earth, she doesn’t need us.

If it was a movie

  • The Hero: You (as you are now, no superpowers, extra knowledge, or access to specialist equipment)
  • The Opponent: Global warming
  • The Goal: Save The Earth

No biggy, right? But this is only at the beginning of the movie, kind of misleading, and only what you think you need to do. Of course, you’ve also got:

  • The Allies: Fellow humans who want to save the world
  • The Fake-Ally Opponent: The people who say they want to save the world, don’t even recycle but tell you how you should do it
  • The Fake-Opponent Ally: The people making money from fossil fuels but who recycle everything, drive an electric car, and use the money to find a better way

And then there’s all that stuff you don’t know you don’t know.

to save the world you have to save yourself
I remember this quote but not who said it, I suspect it was Banksy. If you know let me know.

And somewhere in your movie when you’ve been through some shit, probably not too far after the midpoint, you realise that to save everyone else you first have to save yourself. And the opponent isn’t who you thought it was. In fact, the opponent is so far from who (or what) you thought it was that you have to wonder what the hell you’ve been doing up till now. And not only that, you’ve dug yourself in pretty deep. You’re at a crossroads: the easy path where you continue as you were before your crusade began or a far more complex path that’s gonna require a lot of effort with no guarantee of success.

Save Yourself: Are you The Sheep or The Wolf?

The Sheep: Comfortably content. Happy to be led whilst under the illusion of freedom.

The Wolf: Capable of surviving on their own but able to work as part of the pack for the greater good without abandoning their sense of self.

I haven’t lost the plot -don’t worry, I found it

Hollywood is the biggest platform in the world. And your brain is hard-wired to learn through story. How many people have saved a friend -or a stranger- because of something they saw on TV or in a movie? How many times have you been involved in a conversation based on nothing more than information you learned from watching a movie? And yes, there are those that will deny it until they’re blue in the face. But that’s okay, because you know a normal person can’t hold their breath for more than about two minutes.

So instead of another documentary about the migratory journey of whales and their diminishing numbers (that, only people already into saving the world, whales, or Leonardo DiCaprio watch), why not make a regular movie with smaller core messages?

So, I ask you, fellow writers, storytellers, filmmakers, bards, what is your message?