Collisions: Why We Need Fierce Compassion for Our Planet

Fierce compassion. The theme for the 2016 Skoll World Forum came into dramatic relief for me when I stepped into the world of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan of the Martu tribe, in the remote Pilbara desert of western Australia.

I had made a promise to myself that I would experience the virtual reality world of Collisions while I was the Skoll World Forum. I love shiny new things, especially when they converge with my passion for storytelling through multimedia. As an added bonus, Collisions intersects with my newfound commitment to indigenous medicine through my emerging practice as an energy healer.

I settled into my chair and put on the glasses and headphones with deep anticipation. I had already had powerful conversations with filmmaker Lynette Wallworth, which gave me a sense of the craft and vision that she brought to her work. And yet, nothing prepared me for the completely immersive and visceral experience of arriving in the vast Australian desert and connecting with the land through the eyes of the stewards who seek to protect and nurture it.

“Collisions” with Dolby Atmos and Jaunt VR from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

Here’s how the filmmaker describes Collisions:

Collisions is a virtual reality journey to the land of indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan and the Martu tribe in the remote Western Australian Pilbara desert. The Martu lived largely untouched by Western culture until the 1960’s. Nyarri’s first contact with Western culture came in the 1950’s via a dramatic collision between his traditional world view and the cutting edge of Western science and technology, when he witnessed first hand and with no context, an atomic test. Nyarri offers us a view to what he saw, and, reflecting on this extraordinary event, shares his perspective on the Martu way to care for the planet. Collisions focuses on the needs of future generations, as we dive head-long into the fourth industrial revolution.

As the bodies of kangaroos flew through the air after the nuclear explosion witnessed by Nyarri, I felt my heart break and then break again. Each thud was a reminder that this was wrought by us humans. I was overwhelmed by fierce compassion – for myself, for the kangaroos, and for the Martu tribe.

Can these immersive experiences be a link from self to planet in way that ignites fierce compassion strongly enough to interrupt our headlong fall into extinction?

Nyarri Morgan. Photo credit: Piers Mussared

Can virtual reality be the journey that each one of us embarks upon to create different possibilities and outcomes?

Can we learn from our indigenous elders and create a sustainable future based on fierce compassion for all beings that inhabit this planet?

Collisions certainly gives me inspiration and hope that we can bring ancient technologies together with modern ones to dream a new world into being.

Watch Collisions on Jaunt with your own VR headset.
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