The “tree of wisdom”, as presented in the old testament of the Christian faith, is a rightful term that describes the duality of human purpose that could either cause things to be better or worse. Once in a while, we stumble upon a movie that deals with this topic and touches our hearts and minds to question our intent, the consequences of our action and our ultimate fate. One such movie is I am Legend.
I am Legend warns us that our irresponsible actions towards new innovations in science will ultimately destroy us; it is important for humans to know that the purpose of innovations is not fame or money, but the desire to improve human lives.
In the movie, Dr. Alice Krippin invented a cure for cancer that did more harm than good. She applied genetic modification of a measles variant in a bid to cure a deadly pandemic-cancer. Despite the fact that the invention performed fantastically in the treatment for cancer, it turned out that the cure inexplicably wiped out all of humankind, turning everyone into mutant predators. Irresponsible actions such as this, are commonly found in present real life, though not as radical as it was presented in the movie, or so we hope.
So much have been damaged and lost as the direct results from careless actions. The invention of the simple gun powder has caused so many deaths. The convenience of the automobile has contributed to pollution and global warming. And the growth of industries has polluted our waters and corrupted marine life.
Common sense should tell us that new innovations have great potential for danger. Going back to the movie, though not explicitly presented, I am drawn to the conclusion that Dr. Krippin rushed the testing process and applied the treatment without considering the side effects. Anything that is new should be subjected to very high standards of safety. And, anything that will be unleashed into the real world should be subjected to very tight scrutiny.
Everything that we have created seems to have negative effects. This would lead us to question, “Are we still capable to move on and try to improve and develop our world? Or, are we better off if we just sit down and wait for things to happen?” There are no perfect plans, only perfect intentions. While every innovation has some negative side effects, we cannot neglect the fact that almost every endeavor or quest has the best intentions in mind.
Just as Dr. Krippin’s intention was to cure cancer, Robert Neville’s intention was still of good nature. Robert Neville desperately tried and succeeded in finding the serum that would reverse Dr. Krippin’s unintended side effect. This is true in real life. Every innovation is meant to make our lives easier, more comfortable and better. But then, we are only humans. We can do our best to conquer the challenges of everyday life but cannot foretell the future.
What then should be our guideline to assure that we are on the right track to progress and not towards our own demise? We simply have to keep our good intentions clear and our conscience clean.
Humans have the greatest potential for good and evil. While we have the gift of intelligence, we are very vulnerable and weak. Good intentions could easily be clouded by human desire for fame, money and power. For some, the world is a battle field. Life is a contest. And, innovation is just a deadly race.
Perhaps, we have ourselves to blame. So much honor and spectacle is awarded to whoever discovers this or that first. Maybe, a simple gesture of a handshake and an appreciative round of applause are enough to commend such feats of creativity and ingenuity.
The movie I am Legend is very entertaining. It is mere science fiction but it is very close to real life. While it is meant to be entertaining, it should also give us a wake-up call. The movie should encourage us to get in touch with our human side. It should lead to the question, “What are the things that make us human?” And the answer is very simple: to be human we simply need to desire and work to help other humans, nothing more and nothing less.
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