Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If a bomb designer can be compassionate, why can't we?

I was thinking about what I said the other day:
What if everyone knew that the entertainment industry was primarily interested in making the world a better place? What would that make possible?
And as I often do, I went to see what Thich Nhat Hanh had to say on the subject. In his book, Creating True Peace, Thay discusses how our occupations can be an opportunity to "help others, and to generate compassion and understanding in the world." He mentions how a man who works at a firm that designs nuclear weapons came to him, expressing his concerns, and Thay knew that if he advised the man to quit, another person would just replace him.
"I urged him to remain the director of his firm, to bring mindfulness to his daily work, and to use his position to communicate his concerns and doubts about the production of atomic bombs... if the bomb designer practices and does his work with mindfulness, his job can still nourish his compassion and in some ways allow him to help others. He can still influence his government and fellow citizens by bringing greater awareness to the situation. He can give the whole nation an opportunity to question the necessity of bomb production....

...once you begin to realize your interconnectedness with others, your interbeing, you begin to see how your actions affect you and all other life. You begin to question your way of living, to look with new eyes at the quality of your relationships and the way you work. You begin to see, 'I have to earn a living, yes, but I want to earn a living mindfully."
If this is possible for someone who designs nuclear weapons, it should be easy for those of us in the entertainment business––to look at our work and consider its impact on others, to see through the eyes of compassion, and to work to cultivate compassion in others. Entertainment gives us enormous power to communicate, to generate compassion, to generate understanding, and to bring us great joy by making a difference for others.

Take a minute, and consider it for yourself. What if entertainment was known as an industry where people were mainly interested in the well-being of others? What if you, personally, were willing to take on that commitment: to take on that conversation in everything you do. How can my work benefit others? How am I making a difference?

What would the world look like if my primary focus was making a difference for others in my work and in my life?

1 comment:

  1. I often think to myself when seeing people running around sets, AD's yelling at PA's and the chain trickling down, "We are not performing Brain Surgery here, why get so upset." But then I took a class with the amazing and very compassionate Alaine Alldaffer (Playwrights Horizons) and she once had a student come to her upset over why she should be an actor if she wasn't saving any lives, like Brain Surgeons, and she said "Artists may not save lives, but they save the world". So maybe if we were more mindful in the entertainment industry we could save the world one audience at a time : )