Three video clips to get you thinking outside the box

Indian sadhu.Make that the “TV box.”

I have pretty much given up watching regular television in favor of programs available on the internet. Whereas a few years ago I thought YouTube was only a place to watch funny pet videos, it’s where I find about 90 per cent of my programs these days, often viewed on my laptop.

Info-maniac that I am, I mostly watch documentaries, and YouTube is a great resource for that. Think about all those hundreds of documentaries (e.g., BBC, National Geographic, etc.) that you never saw when they were broadcast on “appointment television.”

Many or most of them are now archived — forever — on YouTube, where you can watch them for free any time you want.

YouTube is now the most significant library of filmed material anywhere. You can search on any topic and find useful or interesting programs.

For instance, the other night I watched a documentary about the Milky Way Galaxy (one of many such films on YouTube) in HD. The imagery was astonishing, and I still can’t get the metaphor out of my head that, to illustrate the size of our galaxy, imagine the dot above the letter “i” on a printed page. If that tiny dot was the our Sun, the Milky Way would be the size of the continental United States!

And imagine that in our galaxy alone there are more stars than there grains of sand on all the world’s beaches!

Yet our galaxy is only one of billions — hundreds of billions in fact — so there are in fact more galaxies than there are grains of sand in all the world’s beaches! And each contains a hundred billion stars, or many times that.

With that perspective, the cruel and harmful things we do as human beings to one another (e.g., wars), and animals and the environment in general seems that much more stupid. We occupy an incredibly tiny place in the universe, but a precious one.

Anyway, here are two very short internet video clips that will get you thinking differently, and one longer one. They are all very different from one another, but taken together, should cause you to question the status quo of your life.

The first is this shocking short video on the uneven distribution of wealth in America. We all know it’s uneven, but the way the information is presented in this clip will blow your mind (truly!). It’s incredible to me how many Americans oppose what the Republicans have branded “Obamacare” on the premise that the country can’t afford it. See what you think after you watch this clip:

Next up is “The Story of Solutions” (an update on the popular Story of Stuff video clip that came out around three years ago). I really like the example of plastic recycling as an example of “old paradigm” thinking.

Finally, here’s a video I watched very recently that may only be online for free for a limited time. It’s a bit longer (around 45 minutes) but well worth watching. It was filmed in beautiful HD. It’s follows three young Americans on a trip to India, to photograph the “sadhus” (wandering spiritual ascetics), who are much revered in that country.

If you can, watch all three videos in one evening, and then ponder your own values, living in a consumer society — one of great inequality and many superstitions about what is important and how we should live our lives.

I won’t tell you what to think — you’re smart and will draw your own conclusions. But if I can cause any change in you, it’s to get you away from conventional television and into the realm of online programming, which could be much more useful in your life. All of this may seem off-topic for a magazine like ours, but if you want to think about sustainable living, I think this stuff is spot on.

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