How do you expand your consciousness?
This is one of many questions that we ask the people we film on our travels across the globe. Almost two years ago, a friend of mine came to me in Seattle with a proposal: “Let’s buy a camera, go to another country, and film everything that happens to us along the way.” Six months later we were traveling through Colombia with a camera and a list of questions. Among them were, “What do you think is the greatest problem in the world right now?” and “How can average people make the world a better place?”
The world is changing, fast. Soon, the problems that we collectively face will become a tangible reality for us all, if they haven’t become so already – climate change, over-population, teetering economies, take your pick. Across the globe, people are questioning the methods that our leaders are taking to lead us. In a world of over 6 billion people, how can one person possibly make a difference?
The title of our documentary is The MapMakers:Project Colombia. Before going to South America, everyone I knew warned me about the infamous country I was about to visit. I was told that I was crazy to go there. I would probably get kidnapped, robbed, or killed. None of these people however, had ever been to Colombia themselves. Their information was usually relayed from whatever television news source that they regularly watched. Consequently, their beliefs about the rest of the world were also very similar.
Fear, unfortunately, has become a staple in the American media diet.
Consider that. If we are constantly bombarded with problems with no real call to action, other than fear, how are we supposed to meet the challenges that we now face?
The answer may be surprising.
After asking hundreds of people what the average person can do to make the world a better place, we got an overwhelmingly similar response: Change your attitude.
“If I change my attitude about the world, about the world’s problems, and about myself, and this change in attitude is positive, then I am on my way to improving the world,” said one person.
“Many people are always looking to blame something exterior. It’s the government’s fault, it’s the media’s fault. But if we change our attitude, and look inside ourselves, then suddenly these problems are not so big anymore, as long as we take the next step to change our own behaviors,” said another person.
Hence the name of the documentary, The MapMakers. Each of us has the power and opportunity to look at life any way we choose to – we each travel through life using the map we ourselves have created. We can believe that the world is full of scary people, scary situations, and hopeless scenarios. Some of these beliefs may be true, and some of them may not be true. Life is of course, a very subjective experience.
Now with that in mind, we can choose to look at life the opposite way – that the world is full kind and helpful people, that not everyone is out to get us, and that these big problems that we face are not as overwhelming as we have been led to believe. My point is this: we are at a critical moment in history and our collective beliefs will shape the outcome of our world. If we continue to believe that our problems are beyond fixing then we have already failed the challenge to fix them.
Luckily, we can wield our positive perceptions of the world and share them with those around us. We can begin to map out a new reality, one that is not based on fear but on cooperation and open-mindedness.
Creating your own map of reality is not always easy. But fortunately, you don’t have to go to Colombia to do it. All it takes is a bit of courage and curiosity. It takes courage to question your beliefs about the world, and it is curiosity about the world that creates the canvas on which we will draw our maps.
In March we will travel to Ethiopia to film our next documentary. Literally halfway across the world, Ethiopia couldn’t be further from our concept of “normal”. My own perception of that country comes from what I see and hear on the news – poverty, AIDS, war. But like all else, there are two sides to every coin.
I invite you to visit our website www.themapmakers.org for more information about mapmaking and how we can begin to solve the problems that we all face. I do not believe that these problems are so great that they cannon be solved. But it will take more than just one perception of a positive future…