More and more often these days, the message seems to be "open your heart." "Love thy neighbor" is no longer just for ourselves at home, at play and at work. It's a movement among individuals with the thought of healing: healing ourselves, corporate America, and the planet. Could it be that even Corporate America might be headed in that direction? Very definitely, if we, as individuals have anything to say about it according to Tom Shadyac, in his documentary I AM.
Tom Shadyac's movie documents the journey to his own heart. That he now believes human consciousness and emotions actually affect the physical world is well grounded in the science that tells us we are all connected to each other and to everything around us.
"My hope is that I AM is a window into Truth, a glimpse into the miracle, the mystery and magic of who we really are, and of the basic nature of the connection and unity of all things." says Shadyac.
He begins with, "What is wrong?" and goes on to explain, "In I AM, I wanted to talk about the root cause of the ills of the world, because if there is a common cause, and we can talk about it, air it out in a public forum, then we have a chance to solve it." In the process of meeting with great thinkers, philosophers, scientists and other luminaries such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and poet Coleman Barks, he discovered "what is right."
For Shadyac, the human heart is what's right. Human beings are wired for compassion. According to Dacher Keltner, a professor in the film, "Recent research is suggesting that our capacities for virtue and cooperation and our moral sense are old in evolutionary terms."
Human beings are happier when they are sharing and expressing love, compassion and gratitude. It is ironic that Charles Darwin is best known for popularizing the notion of "survival of the fittest," but, as Shadyac points out, he actually used the word love 95 times in The Descent of Man, and used his now well-known phrase, "survival of the fittest," only twice.
Accordingly, humans function at a higher capacity and remain healthier when expressing positive emotions of love, care, compassion, and gratitude, rather than their negative counterparts: anxiety, frustration, anger and fear. Sadly, most positive emotions have been squeezed out of corporate America.
The pursuit of "The American dream" and the over-acquisition of wealth have driven us into fear, competition and anger. "It was a revelation to me that for tens of thousands of years, indigenous cultures taught a very different story about our inherent goodness," Shadyac explains. He admits that he himself is recovering from a mental illness that drove him to acquire houses, cars, a private plane, all the while thinking he was doing his part to make a difference.
Just like cells in the human body growing unchecked at the expense of other cells in the body result in the disease we call cancer, Shadyac believes that it's an unnatural drive to acquire as much as we want at the expense of others. One might look at the fixated pursuit of wealth as a cancer in our society. In some cultures this is considered a form mental illness.
Shadyac's conclusion: "Simply put, I no longer want to stand on top of the movie-making heap and declare that I am the most valuable, and therefore worth more. I only want to take what I need and give the remainder to those in need."
In Shadyac's own words, he "began experimenting with a new economic model that would govern how I would do business in a more balanced and equitable manner. The goal for me had become unity and integrity... a consistency of character rooted in compassion, creativity and love." He continues, "The solution begins with a deeper transformation that must occur in each of us. I AM isn't as much about what you can do, as who you can be. And from that transformation of being, action will naturally follow."
Business shouldn't be separate from our true nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson had the right idea:
... our life might be much easier and simpler than we make it... Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom... and you are without effort impelled to... a perfect contentment... Why need you choose so painfully your place, and occupation...?
Unfortunately, we seem to have drifted far away from our true nature. It is time to shift into your Heart-Gear. If it's happening in Hollywood, Corporate America can follow suit. It starts with your own discovery of your heart. It is our birthright as human beings to be happy and our responsibility to spread it amongst our neighbors.