As I usually do while on vacation, I spent my spring break watching lots of TV and movies, mostly on Netflix. Instead of studying for finals like I probably should have been doing, I opted to watch some mind-numbing media, which I rationalized by convincing myself my mind needed the rest. (It did, but it also needed the extra study time, as I have come to realize this week.) Among the movies I watched was a not-so-mind-numbing documentary called The Human Experience, that I landed on while looking for documentaries about dogs, all of which I think I’ve seen by now (Ok, so maybe I’m a little obsessed).
Alone with my laptop, in my pajamas, I was inspired and moved by this film, and I want to share it with the world (or at least anyone who reads this). The film, created by brothers Jeff and Clif Azize, chronicles their search for meaning and answers to questions like Why is life worth living? Who am I? and What are we all doing here?
They embark on a journey with their friends who are all young men living at St. Francis house in Brooklyn, a group home for struggling boys looking for a new start. Their stops include a week spent homeless on the streets of New York, an orphanage for ill and disabled Peruvian children, and a remote Leprosy colony in Ghana. Laced in with footage of these experiences are clips of commentary from philosophers, activists, psychologists, and other experts on their view of the human condition, and their answers to the questions the Azize brothers are asking.
The film, I think, has the power to move anyone who has a heart and a conscience. One of the most remarkable things about the documentary is that it has no single message; every viewer can take away a unique meaning. Among other things, what struck me most was the fact that these two brothers, still 18 and 27 at the time, set out on a mission to answer some of life’s biggest questions through experience, and through learning about the experiences of others.
There is no denying that the movie is very much related to social justice and community service. Their journey puts them face-to-face with, and in the shoes of people who are under-served in one way or another. The film sheds light on questions we all have and issues we all face, and potentially gives us a lead in the tireless search for meaning. I think what the documentary suggests is that the answers to the questions “what am I doing here?” and “why am I here?” won’t be found within ourselves, they’ll be found within each other.
Here’s the trailer:
To learn more about the film, visit the website: http://www.grassrootsfilms.com/thehumanexperience/