03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

James Cameron's New Consciousness

Have you heard about the new world consciousness due to arrive by 2012? According to experts, either

a) A worldwide natural disaster will occur, directed by Roland Emmerich. Or,

b) There will be a return to the utopian world of Avatar, only this time you won't need 3D glasses because it really will be in 3D.

Which will it be? The answer in a moment.

If civilization ended tomorrow, would this create a new consciousness? Let's see. There'd be fewer people. We'd live close to the land and close to each other. When we wanted to create art we'd just pick up some squirrel dung and make shapes to stick on our cave walls. See, I don't like this scenario already. And forget culture altogether: Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Henri Rousseau considered and duly noted, people sure do like to form groups and kill other people. And why would Nature suddenly start cooperating with human aspirations and goals? It hasn't so far.

Rousseau, the painter of the three utopian sages mentioned above, got it right. Sure, he did "The Dream," showing a naked lady communing with nature on a comfy divan, but he also painted "The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope," which is more like it.

Nature looks nice but can be brutal, and if the world goes primitive it won't be pretty.

The good news is that the leading edge of the new age is already here, and like most great changes, it's gradual. In Hollywood, it's not just Jim Cameron dreaming of a future guided by the wisdom of Gaia, the Earth mother. c3 Conscious Creatives is dedicated to creating more conscious media, and John Raatz of the Visioneering Group is finding new ways to distribute what he is calling Transformational Media: Media that shows how people change and that uplifts humanity. Bob Ballard runs the Hearts of Fire Project, which is intended to empower homeless people through artistic self-expression. He sees homeless people not as helpless people, but instead as those on the vanguard of a new culture expressing what's really important in the world: love, community and connection.

"The homeless can teach us that people are important, not what people have," he says.

Change means that onetime fringe values are entering mainstream culture. Michael Cera can discuss silent Vipassana meditation on the David Letterman show, and Letterman can sound genuinely interested. James Cameron can do a $230-mil (maybe more) movie that glorifies respect for the Earth and millions embrace it. Only the critic from the New Yorker didn't seem to get the Gaia message, dismissing Cameron as a hippie thinker with a huge checkbook. Cameron may be that, but good thing his message was heard by many.

Oh, the answer to the quiz? There isn't one. The Mayans may have been great predictors of the future, but the fact that their calendar ends in 2012 means only one thing. Time to get a new calendar.