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Arts / Entertainment

Sneak peek of documentary 'I AM' Jan. 26

January 21, 2011
by Melinda Swenson

'This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.'
Remember these infamous lines from 'Star Wars?' Tom Shadyac's new documentary, 'I AM,' seems to be making a similar appeal -- not to a Jedi Master, of course -- but to people across America. The film's message is, "You're needed. You're part of something huge -- a force for good that is palpable and real in this world. Join us."

Shadyac interviewed Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, and other leaders from the worlds of science, faith, and philosophy, and asked them, "How can we as a race improve the way we live?"

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 7 p.m.
Lory Student Center Theatre
Q & A to follow

You would think

You would think the question, “What is Tom Shadyac passionate about?” would be simple to answer. The obvious response is, “Comedy.”

Shadyac is a Hollywood film maker with huge box-office hits such as Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty, and Nutty Professor that grossed more than a billion and a half dollars around the world.

Living the world differently

But if you ask Shadyac today what he is passionate about, he’ll say, “Having a conversation with young people about their potential and their children’s potential to live the world in a different way.”

We are inextricably interconnected

In the documentary, I AM, Shadyac travels the globe interviewing prominent thinkers from the worlds of science, philosophy, and faith; each of them asserts that our world is waking up to a discovery of common ground — that we are all interconnected and wired to care deeply about each other and the plight of earth.

Your reaction to this might be, “Really? How am I supposed to buy that, in light of all the greed, competition, and hatred we see in the world today?”

The story we live

“Oppression, war, poverty — they’re all symptoms of a more deeply rooted problem,” Shadyac says. “The cultural story we live is partially crafted by the scientific story we’ve embraced.”

Shadyac alludes to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which he says has been interpreted to mean that each of us stands alone and is pitted against nature and each other in a competition — not only for survival, but for the lion’s share of everything our planet has to offer.

"The basis of nature is cooperation and democracy. It's in our DNA." (Thom Hartmann)

Breaking loose of the old story

"Are we really separate? Social scientists and physical scientists are now saying that the fundamental nature of reality is connection — there is a field that connects everything.

"And if you look beneath the dogma of all religions, you will find that each faith started out with a conviction that we’re all connected.

"Technology and this narrative are beginning to come together —  electronic media and instantaneous communication are mirroring our  interconnectedness," Shadyac says. "Behavior has to shift to meet that merger."

Intentions, feelings matter

The documentary, I AM, asserts that not only is everything interconnected, but “what we do on an individual level really does effect the global environment.”

“There’s something called the double slit experiment in quantum physics,” Shadyac says. “It proves that just the act of observing something changes the result of an experiment.” Scientists now know that energy is influenced in some unknown way by the mind.

“Your thoughts, feelings, and intentions have an effect on everything around you,” Shadyac says. “What is that effect? Today's society inculcates its members into a certain ideology that does not necessarily support our fulfillment and happiness.

“It takes courage to change. Laziness takes comfort in what is and not necessarily in what's true.  When you step out of your comfort zone you have a chance to learn something. Emerson says, 'People wish to be settled. Only so much as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.'"

Bike accident 'knocked me into my heart'

Shadyac says that his awakening came about after a bike accident in 2007. Doctors diagnosed him as having post-concussive syndrome. For months, he suffered an intense sensitivity to light and sound and experienced severe mood swings. He was forced to sleep in a darkened room with black out curtains covering the windows.

“The accident didn’t give me any new found wisdom… I’d been considering some of these ideas for some time. But it knocked me out of my fear to start a new conversation about what I had become aware of and awakened to."

Personal revolution is the only true revolution

Shadyac let go of his accumulations and signposts of personal wealth—his private jet, the large mansion he owned in Pasadena, and move into a trailer. He’s donated much of his wealth to those in need.

“The only true revolution is the personal revolution,” Shadyac says, and he urges everyone to reach out with compassion and to lend a hand. “If your actions come from authenticity, that has real power,” he says, “But even if you've numbed out to a certain extent and are just going through the motions, truth can still reveal itself if you have the courage to listen.

"You will feel something — a strength or power. You will feel the physicality of your body change. We're all wired to help each other, and acting on behalf of others will help you access a part of yourself that has meaning and is connected to a higher purpose."

Anticipating his trip to Fort Collins

Shadyac says that he looks forward to talking with Colorado State University students. “I’m very passionate about this conversation with college students,” Shadyac says. “They have that young energy and are so open. They have an opportunity to raise their children in a different way and help birth a new world."

Event free but tickets required

Tickets become available Tuesday, Jan. 18 at the IBox at the Lory Student Center. The event is free, but tickets are required for admission.

[I AM will be released in theatres in February 2011.]

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Contact: Lance Wright
E-mail: Lance.Wright@ColoState.edu
Phone: (970) 491-6921