Escaping to Pandora

In leafing through some statistics concerning the Czech Republic, I came across the following: in 2009, Czechs led Europe (or were at the top) in the following categories: number of sick days and physician visits, divorce rate (tied with Belgium), mobile telephones and texting per person, rate of atheism, drug use among the young, beer drinking per capita, complaints filed in court (also the longest wait to resolve court cases in Europe despite having the highest number of judges per capita!), lung cancer rate, highway deaths, shopping mall space per capita, and last but not least, in Transparency International’s Corruption Index, where in which the CR has been worse year-on-year for the last several years.

The above facts support the stereotype of a nation that does not believe in God or institutions, from justice to marriage. Interpersonal contact is avoided in lieu of text messages. That way, uncomfortable face-to-face explanations are avoided. A fair amount of time is spent in the smoky pub, and if the policeman stops you on the way home, the ticket is usually “dealt with” to mutual satisfaction. The hangover the next day prompts a visit to the doctor for a sanctioned day off from work.

Avatar is the film of 2010. The production places the viewer onto a magical but very believable planet (Pandora) so convincingly that upon leaving the theater, doubts over which reality is true linger. Avatar has already spawned much discussion, including an Internet forum entitled, “How to deal with depression caused by the fact that Pandora is unreachable.” To-date, over thirteen thousand bloggers have participated, almost all of them complaining as did Ivar Hill from Sweden, that in contrast to Pandora, our world is bleak indeed.

In the West and in Europe, man is beginning to flee more and more from reality to Pandora. Czechs are fleeing as well, from a past full of unresolved conflicts through a troubled present and into an uncertain future. Their flight is a disparate one, since they have no true leaders of any worth to inspire them, nor do they have any sense of moral or national purpose. They have been thrust on an island of freedom without overrule, and now they must find their own way. The distorted realities of the past and a society that still functions via excuses, avoidance, retreating into self, and complete moral alibism all serve to brake progress and to create the sad statistics.

When one scrolls through the aforementioned Avatar forum, one is also struck by the fact that the discussion is open and sincere. The participants explore their own feelings and offer solutions to each other as well, many of them childlike but well-meaning. However, all are in agreement concerning one thing: the more they communicate between themselves, the more they find the courage to return to the reality of the day, to heal, and to move forward.


The New Presencewinter 2010

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