As a fellow ONE member and a firm believer in the interconnectedness of our world, I am always looking for new ways to help bridge the gaps within my community and within society as a whole. Recently, my friend recommended I watch the documentary “I Am.” She claimed that as a result of watching this film, she felt more connected and obligated than ever before to the world she was a part of. Being a philosophical and existential junkie, I knew I had to check this out for myself.
The film follows director Tom Shadyac as he embarks on a social, scientific and spiritual journey to answer two profound questions: “What’s wrong with the world?” and “What can we do about it?”
After a near-death experience, Shadyac traveled around the world to interview renowned spiritual and scientific leaders such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Noam Chomsky, along with many others, in order to find answers to the questions that plagued him. Throughout the film, Shadyac argues that, at the core of our existence, there is a genetic capability and need to collaborate and to love one another. The film argues that this ability to sympathize and to love is actually one of the main evolutionary traits that has allowed us to thrive as a species.
The term used throughout the film that resonated with me the most was what was referred to as “the power of one.” This alluded not only to the power humanity has as a whole when they join forces, but also to the power we as individuals have within ourselves. At its core, this is the idea ONE tries to instill in its members every day. With your voice comes the power to change society and the larger the voice the greater the change can be. Desmond Tutu, who has been a supporter of ONE’s advocacy work, shines throughout the film in highlighting the power of the individual when placed within the whole. He stresses the importance to “galvanize others and say, it is possible to change.”
For those that say to themselves, “What’s the point? What can I do about it?” in reference to social change, the answer may astound you. “I Am” argues that we are actually genetically programmed to love, cooperate and share with one another. We do have the power inside ourselves to change the way society operates and it starts at the individual level.
The film finishes with a beautiful message. In answering his initial questions, Shadyac discovers that we are what is wrong with the world today. More importantly, in trying to discover what we can do about it, the answer is extraordinarily simple.
We can love.