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Presenting the NATO of CA/NV 2017 Scholarship Winners...

If I were to offer one movie for all to watch, I would want my choice to resonate with and/or be relevant to each viewer. With these criteria in mind, without doubt, I would choose Nausicaa: Of The Valley Of The Wind by Hayao Miyazaki. This 1984 Japanese animated film is both cautionary and hopeful and delivers themes of environmental responsibility, non-violence, and gender equality in a tastefully portrayed and beautifully animated story. Set in a post-apocalyptic era, 1000 years after the fall of industrial civilization, what remains of humankind is fighting to survive the spread of a toxic jungle of poisonous plants and harrowing insects. Though one might think this would readily unite the species, there continues to be a struggle for supremacy among the surviving territories, resulting in the persistence of fear, greed, and war on the earth.

The stated themes are woven throughout the film in various ways, but all are seen effectively in the depiction of the protagonist, Princess Nausicaa. She is portrayed with physical strength, mechanical skill, logical thinking, compassion, and value of all life forms. She influences and is followed by both the men and women in her village. In various scenes, she rescues those dear to her as well as those who have come against her. She alone is able to communicate with and pacify enraged insects that intuit her sincere care for their existence and desire to live in harmony with them. Given these characteristics, she defies female stereotypes, represents the human capacity for forgiveness and compassion, and demonstrates the impact one person can make in the world by choosing to respect nature and esteem life in all forms.

Viewers from all world cultures would benefit from these representations. Whether one lives in a country that continues to openly oppress women or one that continues to make strides toward gender equality, the message that women are effective leaders is a constructive one. The message that compassion and fair-mindedness more often leads to peaceful resolutions than does fear and greed can only support the cessation of conflict and advancement of cultural understanding. The message that humans should be benevolent keepers of the earth and be mindful of the environmental impacts of their behavior should encourage everyone to be more cognizant of how mankind treats the soil, water, and air that sustains our lives as well as the habitats of our animal co-inhabitants. Equally notable, the idea that one person can actually make a positive difference in the world should be applauded across the globe, because if each one decided to be that person there is no doubt that the world would be a much better place.

Admittedly, the expectation that one film shown to the world would result in a global utopia is unrealistic. However, conceivably, a small change made by each person who embraced only one positive message from the film could result in a global renaissance. Just as the healthy plant sprouted up beneath the toxic jungle at the end of the movie, there is always hope.

 

 

 

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