Far, far away, but not too far in the future, is the world of Pandora, where humans have just arrived. In the movie Avatar, by James Cameron, there is a race of human-like creatures called the Na’vi. These people rely heavily on the Hometree, which connects them to their ancestors and all things spiritual, many even live here. Sadly due to the greed of the humans who have landed on the planet, the Hometree of the Omaticaya clan gets destroyed. This movie makes many different comments on contemporary social issues. The biggest ones are our treatment of our planet, our treatment of other earthlings, and our treatment of traditions and spiritual customs. The destruction of this tree demonstrates how humans have little respect for nature. It also goes deeper to show that we have little respect for the cultures of others and the rituals they perform. This tree was incredibly sacred to the Na’vi people and was more than just a home. They were connected to their past and future lives through this.
Similarly, in Sophocles’ Antigone, the brother of Antigone, Polyneices, was denied the religious ceremony of burial. Antigone fought against this, doing what she knew was right, and buried him multiple times. Creon disrespected the traditions and customs that were incredibly important to Antigone. This was more than just the act of covering her brother with dirt, it was a sacred act that she needed to do to show respect.
In both of these works, power and greed was put above the importance of honoring traditions and respecting those around you. The humans in Avatar wanted the riches that lay beneath the Hometree, so they took it. Creon in Antigone was desperate to keep the power he held as ruler of Thebes, so he denied the funeral rites to Polyneices and left him to be looked on in shame. Hopefully, we can learn from this social commentary that we need to respect each other and the world around us.
Sheila Kelly, Team Saturn