At the end of the film Cloud Atlas, Sonmi~451 is a clone a woman and she stands alone in front of a camera…
“Our lives are not our own,” she says.
Our world is very much obsessed with individuality, so much so that these words seem almost defeatist and lacking in ambition. At school, our children are pressured to achieve, to be stand out exceptional – life is a competition and being individual is promoted as protecting you from the failure of others. And being stand out exceptional can ensure you don’t suffer from the incompetence of our rule makers.
It is fabulous to be original, to be creative and to think for ourselves. But, I do not believe that we are meant to be islands. We should not be isolated from each other, super confident in our superiority and our ability to win and to survive whilst others are losing or suffering. The idea that, if we came first, we deserved it, but if we lost, it was just our terribly bad luck is not at all helpful. We need each other.
Where we were born can define us. To whom we were born sets our genetic code. We can be affected and infected by bugs and bacteria and yet we think we can change our destiny by competing and working harder and faster and stronger so that the lone fittest survive.
But this is not as it is. On this Saturday, as our teachers and our children prepare to head back to school, as some of you tie the knot, as we prepare for a bank holiday celebration with loved ones it is important for me to remember one of my favourite ideas, “I am because we are!”
I love this quote because it shows how our very existence, our core being is enriched because of the loving connections that we can develop.
“We are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future. Truth is singular. Its versions are mistruths. To be is to be perceived, and so to know thyself is only possible through the eyes of the other.” DAVID MITCHELL