Moana: Family, Nature, and Trump

Moana: Family, Nature, and Trump
©2016 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

Disney has made some bold statements in 2016 in terms of prejudice (Zootopia), disabilities (Finding Dory), and the destruction of Nature (Moana).

As Moana takes the hero’s journey, the story unfolding around her is much deeper than saving the day. The security of the entire ecosystem falls on her shoulders. A thousand years after the demigod, Maui, steals the heart of the Goddess Te Fiti, the world begins to decay. The fish disappear, the plants die, coconuts rot, and islands are blackened.

Moana is the chosen one called to bring balance to the earth and return the heart to the Goddess of Nature.

This is a beautiful story with a powerful theme. Yet, it's another film about the human destruction of nature. Moana portrays boldly and beautifully what M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” (or what I’ve renamed as “The Crappening”) could not. It makes the case that, when in danger, Nature has the freedom and the creative right to fight back; however, not in an angry or irrational way, but simply in a naturalistic way like an animal defending its life.

The main theme in the movie is missed though, at least from all the reviews I have been reading. In the beginning of the film Maui goes to reclaim the heart of Te Fiti because he wants to bring to mankind the ability to create anything, a power that is not deserved of man. For this kind of creation would mean that man would be able to control the earth, when the earth is not an object to be used. The earth is living, breathing, and life giving. The Earth calls to a deep relationship with man where there is altruistic reciprocity rather than dominance.  A healthy relationship does not work out that way or at least don't work out well. We can't have the power to dominate nature, rather we must work with nature in a partnership. For both man and nature are working for the same thing, the same being… the same creator. God called Adam to till and guard the garden. He probably never thought he would have to defend it against his own humanity.

To abuse nature is like allowing your child to draw on a Dali painting, using it for scrap paper rather than allowing it's natural beauty to be absorbed by all for generations.

Maui doesn't understand this because he has been blinded by the effects of his own human history, so he takes the heart and causes Te Fiti to transform into a vicious monster. She does so, not because she wants to, but because nature robbed of it's naturalistic creation is the very description of chaos, a void blackened landfill that the Greeks spoke about. The most trifling thing is not that Maui actually stole the heart of Nature, but rather why he stole it.

Maui was a human once and was abandoned by his family. An orphan who was alone in search of belonging was found by the Gods and raised as one of them, given power as a demigod. With his unquenchable desire to please humanity due to its own rejection, he stole the heart as a gift. He did it to simply feel loved.

How simplistic his reasoning, yet how devastating the consequences. When it comes to the most fundamental aspects of creation, human life and nature, we have become so willing to rob them of their life-giving attributes for personal gain, glory, or simple applause. The irony in Maui’s plot is that he believed that humanity did not have the power to create to begin with when in reality humanity was blessed with the greatest gift, the power to create and cultivate human life in peaceful coherence with nature.

Which brings me to the Trump Administration. While there is a plethora of topics for Trump to tackle, Moana brings up two that are so intrinsically connected, to separate them would be a travesty: family and climate change. They go hand in hand. For the destruction of the family is destruction of nature itself. As John Paul II said, “The family is the nucleus of society.” If we want a better nation than we have to develop our families, from those in our impoverished cities without clean drinking water or school materials to our middle class and even the 1%. If we want a strong national change on our climate crisis, then we need a leader who is going to help us put back the heart we humans have stolen.

We have not seen this sense of leadership from Trump so far. No passionate father of a daughter speaks about women with a gravitas of indecency the way he does. So I’m afraid the role model of our country's family-life is in jeopardy. And we know that he believes that climate change is a hoax developed by the Chinese despite the fact that 2016 has been the hottest year on earth in recorded history followed by 2015 and 2014. So we find ourselves at risk to these cataclysmic effects on the nature of our humanity. But just as Moana proved to be the one who could put back the heart without the help of the demigod, so too can our nation take the hero’s journey for our families and our environment.

I think we all pray that Moana speaks to Trump’s heart when she sings at the end “This is not who you are” shattering his Twitter-obsessed facade and revealing a man who places the care of 350 million people above his 350 million dollar ego.
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