Avatar, part 2: Money, Power, and Knowledge

The movie, Avatar, depicts three archetypal characters that embody success in American culture. These characters, and the values they live by, are presented as a foil to the values of the Na’vi people of Pandora.

The corporately funded mining operation is headed by Parker Selfridge. Clearly an accomplished manager, Selfridge measures his success in life by the profits obtained for the corporation in this mining project. Profit is the drive behind Selfridge’s decisions in life. While the mining operation and related scientific exploration would not occur unless it is profitable, for Selfridge there are no other values to consider in decision making. There is only profit.

The corporate mine employs marines for operations security. Director of security, Colonel Miles Quaritch, is single minded: he has a job to do and he will do it at any cost. In the performance of his job and in his day to day dealings with others, Quaritch lives by the axiom that might make right: if one if physically strong enough to do it, then it’s the right thing to do. There is no other measure of ethics or morality in his perspective.

With a passion for science and knowledge, Doctor Grace Augustine, director of the avatar program, has grown bitter and abrasive toward others in her search for knowledge. She values the pursuit of science and knowledge excluding other human relationships and sensibilities. She is impatient with others, whom she treats as less than herself because she views herself as intellectually superior. For Augustine, the pursuit knowledge for its own sake is the value to live by.

The movie, Avatar, presents all three characters as threats to the Na’vi people and their holistic, integrated way of life. While each of these characters is different, their single minded focus on a particular value blinds them to the richer world of meaning and quality of life found among the Na’vi. These three characters present values which our own culture emulates.

While probably none of those reading this are driven to the extremes these characters portray, the characters are archetypal portrayals of success in our culture today. To some degree, each of these three archetypes is part of us.

Consider to what degree you measure success by income, money, or profit? Are there ways in which you attempt to strong-arm others into doing what is best for you? Do you view yourself as better than others because of particular knowledge, skill or experience? To the degree that these characters are part of our values and lifestyle, then we, too, live in a way that is opposed to the integrated, holistic life represented by the Na’vi.

The allure of money, power, or knowledge is strong. What are things that you can do which will help you to live in a more balanced, integrated way? How can you prevent yourself from being consumed by the seduction of money, power, or knowledge?

© 2010, emerging by Lou Kavar, Ph.D.. All rights reserved.

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One Response to Avatar, part 2: Money, Power, and Knowledge

  1. Judy Krings says:

    Focus on what is POSITIVE about yourself so you can use your talents in the service of others. I am a positive pschologist and life coach (coachingpositivity.com). I never sell. I serve. Remember that saying, “Love in your heart wasn’t put here to stay. Love isn’t love, till you give it away.” The Na’vi were pure, connected, and authentic.

    My only regret re: the movie was that they used Marines or former Marines as the bad guys. I hate war, but I am a patriot and am proud to be an American. Mercenaries are one thing, but to label Marines as the bad guys put a bitter taste in my mouth. They serve us and defend us. Freedom is a huge value. I have lived in other countries. The USA isn’t perfect, but there is nowhere else I’d rather live.

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