My frustration for where this country is headed (and where Nebraska is headed) grows with every passing week. I don’t get a lot of feedback for these columns, good or bad, so I feel I need to reiterate the theme from last week about learning lessons from the past in regards to achieving harmony with nature.

It sounds like hippy mumbo jumbo to some, I’m sure. Learning to live together with plants and animals is an extremely important value to have, however. While the transition has been slow, I am working towards decreasing my waste to zero percent. Right now, our home is extremely active on recycling. We also research companies to make sure not to invest our money into buying products who haven’t come to the light side of responsible resourcing (like palm oil). We’ve sworn off Oreos and other Nabisco products thanks to them laying off a bunch of veterans and moving their manufacturing plants to Mexico (where they pay their employees $1 per hour without any benefits).

I can’t comment accurately how hypocritical (or not) Alliance is, but there’s no denying that a “libtard” like me doesn’t often feel welcome in the heart of Western Nebraska. It’s not like I think I’m a better person than you, just that I’m not ignorant to the extent of consequences for my actions. I’m not perfect, but at least I’m trying.

The same people who think their vote doesn’t matter are also the same as those who think “Well, I love Oreos and it doesn’t affect me, so I’m going to keep supporting” a company that would sell you out for a profit in a heartbeat.

Where did I get my values from? How did they develop? There are a lot of things that contribute. One key factor were the shows that I watched while growing up (and to this day). Most of that comes from anime, but also all of the different video games and comics that I’ve indulged in. While it’s all fictional, the people who create these things hold those values and teach it using their shows as an outlet for that.

I was about 16 years old if I remember correctly, maybe younger. My sister would watch anime at night, especially on the weekend. I poked fun at her for it … before I was turned thanks to an absolutely beautiful movie called “Princess Mononoke.”

Made in 1997, produced by Studio Ghibli, and written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki (who cofounded Studio Ghibli and has won countless award across all of his movies), “Princess Mononoke” is a historical fantasy film following one man with a curse. This man (Ashitaka) protected his village from a boar god turned demon by iron ore having been shot inside of the it. The demon touched Ashitaka’s arm, banishing him from his village and leading to his adventure of finding answers to his cursed arm that sometimes thinks for itself.

The curse spreads from fear and hatred or actions made because of those emotions. He finds a place called Iron Town, where villagers harvest iron for money. A kind woman oversees the village and its commodity of iron, buying out the contracts of girls from brothels and giving them a purpose. However, she fails to realize the consequences her actions have. It was this woman who turned the boar god into a demon with her iron, after all, and caused the curse of Ashitaka’s arm.

Though Ashitaka is assertive, he only ever acted in violence out of defense (and that was after pleading with his enemies to let him pass peacefully). Of course, out of everyone in the movie, he’s the only one seeking to resolve these problems and seeking peace. Even the girl he meets raised by wolf gods (Princess Mononoke, the titular character) is constantly trying to kill other humans, siding with nature that also seeks to eradicate humans for their killing nature (ironic, I know).

I could write a book summarizing this movie, but I do not want to ruin it for you (it is on my top list of all time favorite movies). Another movie similar to this (but different in many aspects) is “Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind.” Nausicaa is a girl living in futuristic dystopia where a toxic jungle exists, born from the toxins and filth of humans. Humans tried to be rid of the jungle by bombing it and destroying it, only to make the jungle grow. Both films promote the harmony between humans and nature, learning to live together with one another. Both films also show a deep understanding of humanity.

Some humans in the movie are simply following orders, learning to go against those orders by seeing the consequences for themselves firsthand. Others are simply a lost cause, corrupted for whatever reason (usually an insatiable quench for power in some form). Then there are those who share the protagonists’ views, aiding them however they can. We learn in these movies the efforts of nature in cleaning the sins of us humans and the utter rule of law that is “even though we’re at the top of the food chain, nature will always find a way to put us in our place.”

These movies teach a truth long lost by many people today, that our actions are synonymous with the ecosystem we live in. The protagonists of both films (one male, one female, proving that it’s a human quality rather than one of a particular gender or race) teach something that’s absolutely important. Both have the odds completely stacked against them, increasingly so as the movie progresses. Both hold strong beliefs and fight just as intensely for them. Even when hope seemed lost, like there was no way they could reverse a massive problem already set forth by the corrupt, they still poured their heart and soul into stopping it.

They didn’t do it for recognition. They didn’t do it for money, or pride, or anything else that’s insignificant compared to the miracle of life. They did it because it was absolutely the right thing to do. They did it because they wouldn’t be satisfied with themselves if they didn’t try. In the end, it’s never too late to keep trying. In the end, they both succeeded. Through their pure intentions, they were able to stop something that seemed impossible to stop after reaching (what seemed like) the brink of extinction for themselves or for nature.

We find ourselves in a similar situation with our country. We see this not just with our severe dependence on oil, but in a variety of ways. Politicians who constantly lie to us, elected businessmen (rather) who are trying to sell us out for the sake of profit who promote conservative economics that have ruined our country time and again.

I have no clue who reads my column, but I really don’t think it’s the people who need to. The people who need inspiration to get off of their butts and take an active role in preventing corruption, the 60 percent of our entire country’s population that thinks “my vote doesn’t matter.” Still, even if I am the only one left seeking harmony between ourselves and nature, even if I am the only one left seeking peace between a polarized country, I will still be who I am fighting for the things that are truly righteous. Change won’t ever happen if you’re not willing to change yourself. If these movies aren’t inspiring enough for you to finally learn a lesson that’s centuries old, then I really don’t know what will. Maybe you’re the character who’s a “lost cause,” succumbed to greed or an insatiable quench for power. I’m not perfect, but at least I’m trying.

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