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The power of a word – Surviving Progress (2011) questions our traditional interpretation of the term ‘progress’ and what it means for our society. No clichéd, heart-felt plea for ecological clemency here, this doc heavy-handedly discredits the misleading concept of positive advancement as it applies to certain aspects of development. Our historical perception of ‘progress’ is both debunked and interpreted as a deliberate manipulation intent on servicing the short-sighted, over-indulgent requirements of a privileged segment of our civilization. We are warned that we will most assuredly suffer for our lack of consideration for our own future as well as our self-serving indifference toward future generations. Our ethical objectivity is challenged through this exposé of the contradictions inherent in our positive response to a word that is traditionally ‘whitewashed’ and eternally promoted as a ‘good thing’. The trend to increase complexity and build on and expand the economy both in nature and human society is questioned. And while certain detrimental trade-offs for the sake of economic advancement may seem advantageous in theory, in reality, it is demonstrated how we are systematically destroying our planet and have reached a point of saturation which threatens our very existence.
Why this doc is worth watching: We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. This film has the capacity to compel us to change our way of thinking about the perception of ‘progress’ and the detrimental effects of our continuing homage to our belief in its magical, transformative power. We are at a great turning-point in our society today. We are living in an age of great, global shifts favouring multi-national interests with ever-increasing influence on everything from climate change – to the loss of biodiversity in our food production – to our livelihood and the unequal distribution of wealth. It is important to understand the danger involved in sacrificing ethical control in the name of economic ‘progress’. We need to recognize that over-consumption and over-production is not a good thing. If we fail to accept responsibility for the harm we have already inflicted on our earth, we are ignorant of the insight essential to our future survival.
The intention of the directors Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks, is not to present a complete ‘doom and gloom’ scenario, but to ultimately provide an important and attainable guideline of hope that stresses the need to lessen our carbon footprint through reduced consumption. It is admitted that none of this comes naturally, because being consumers has become human nature for us.
In the end, it is clear that our potential for change depends on our potential for communal consciousness – which means the restructuring and revival of our innate social capacity that defines our humanity – to care about others beyond ourselves and beyond our time. It is essential that we collectively change our way of thinking about the overindulgent gratification and self-entitlement with which we have been so indoctrinated – in the name of ‘progress’.
Directors: Mathieu Roy, Harold Crooks
Business as usual: “Unlimited economic progress in the world of finite natural resources doesn’t make sense. It’s a pattern that is bound to collapse and we keep seeing it collapsing. All of this is feeding into helping to create corrupt governments who are putting the future of their own people at risk” – Jane Goodall.
More is less: “Instead of thinking of the world as this bank, this endless credit card that we can just keep drawing on, we have to think about the finite nature of the planet and how to keep it alive, so that we too may remain alive. We need to conserve the planet” – Margaret Atwood.
Learn more about the No Impact Project here.