August 12, 2020

8 Documentaries to Inspire Change Right Now.

While COVID-19 is exposing fundamental flaws in the media, food, agriculture, and environmental systems, it is creating the opportunity to reimagine and press pause on our daily lives.

Many of us, including myself, feel helpless in this given situation.

Listening to Waylon Lewis speak through the “Walk the Talk,” Elephant Journal podcast reminded me that we can only focus on the things we can control in our homes and own spaces—this starts with taking care of our immediate environment and ourselves.

Jordan Peterson has a great quote for this:

“If you can’t even clean up your own room, who the hell are you to give advice to the world? My sense is that if you want to change the world, you start with yourself and work outward because you build your competence that way.”

Here is a list of eight documentaries, in no particular order, that I found entertaining, educational, and exactly what I needed during this pandemic to lift my spirits and inspire change from within:

#1. “2040” by David Gameau

What we all need right now is hope for our future ahead. “2040” looks at the real possibility that humanity has the capacity to reverse global warming and improve the lives of all beings in the process. It is a positive vision of what could be instead of the disastrous future we are often presented.

#2. “No Impact Man” by Colin Beavan

Can you go an entire year with as little environmental impact as possible? Colin’s documentary is a great scaffold for change in our every day lives—from reducing waste, eating local, to living sustainability.

This documentary was such an eye-opener going into lockdown. It has inspired my partner and me to become more self-aware with our consumption, waste generation, and the ability for self-sufficiency—we have since transformed our suburban backyard into a small farm.

#3. “Food Inc.

Wow, I think everybody should give this movie a watch—this changed my perspective of our food system and made me want to support our local farmers even more than we already do, buy organic, and support our local vendors! So much of our food industry is run by banks and high-up corporations. Our farmers are suffering and as a result, don’t really have control over how they run their farm.

#4. “An Inconvenient Truth” featuring Al Gore

Despite this film being 15 years old, it’s surprisingly relevant to the current issues of global warming and climate change.

Al Glore concludes that we already have the technology to stop global warming, followed by a brief mention of carbon capture and sequestration, a technology we’d hear a lot about in the future. David Gameau’s “2040” picks up where Al Glore left off “An Inconvenient Truth.”

#5. “Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things

This documentary is something that resonated with me a lot. So often we base our entire lives on: “If I obtain this (insert object), I will be happier,” only to find it only temporarily satisfies us. We live in a material world, and quite often this message of simplicity gets lost.

It’s not until a crisis is at hand that we appreciate what truly matters. We can replace things, not people. Sunday night, we were alarmed to see our next-door neighbour’s backyard shed up in flames. Without hesitation, my partner and I acted swiftly—I rang emergency services whilst sprinting to our neighbours to see if they were out safe, whilst my partner jumped the fence with our garden hose to help our neighbour contain the fire until firefighters arrived. Thankfully no one was hurt, neither was their newly renovated house impacted. Our neighbour was deeply disturbed that he had lost all of his possessions, his and his mate’s motorbikes he had stored, camping gear, tools, and gym equipment—things he accumulated over his lifetime.

It’s not that owning things is bad. I’m not becoming a monk—it’s just that I now want to be mindful about what things I own and why I own them. I want to focus on buying things of quality, not quantity; everything should be purposeful or be something I truly love, and owning it serves the greater life I want to live.

#6. “That Sugar Film” by Damon Gameau

I saw this a few years ago. Since then, I’ve significantly limited processed foods—it’s changed my health, weight, and life. So much of what we consume that we perceive to be healthy is detrimental to our well-being and comes at the cost of our health. I’m still blown away by the tactics used by big businesses to make a profit from unhealthy food. Educating people is the first step because once you know, you can’t “unknow.”

#7. “Heal” by Kelly Noonan

This documentary is life-changing. I hope it can do the same for everyone who watches it, I don’t have adequate words to express the difference it has made in my life—life is bright and beautiful where it used to be scared and lonely. All you need is yourself.

#8. “AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda

I first read this book a few years ago when a friend loaned it to me after they had gotten back from a meditation retreat. I was really excited to discover they had made it into a documentary. So often when we are first introduced to something, there is much hesitation and doubt of its effectiveness, but it’s incredible to think that this has now become everyday life for many of us. If you are feeling overwhelmed by life at the moment, or want to further explore yoga and meditation and where they originated, I would highly recommend this movie.

This is my list of movies that have had a major impact on my life. What documentaries would you recommend? Let me know in the comments.



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