Yann Arthus-Bertrand: Achievement and commitment with benevolence

- through Sophie Solere

Published on

For this humanist, there will be no ecological transition without us operating a revolution in our way of thinking about the world. Spirituality in place of women in this universe managed by men (theme of his film, Woman), through our relationship to life and death, Yann Arthus-Bertrand works to help us change focus and apply the notions of commitment and benevolence on a daily basis. “Act in your place, think with the world” wrote the poet Édouard Glissant. “Acting makes you happy,” replies the president of GoodPlanet.

Faced with the pandemic, countries have withdrawn into themselves. Would the notion of interdependence make it possible to create a common vision for the future, particularly in terms of ecology?

We have to deal with the selfishness of nations. The UN is just a meeting of co-owners: everyone is fighting, no one agrees on the color of the walls. We get rich while plundering the planet's reserves, it's insane! We cannot move forward in a world where everyone pulls the blanket to themselves. There is a profound lack of humanism. Faced with the pandemic, all countries have indeed closed in on themselves. I don't have the solution, but I remain optimistic, because I think we are an intelligent species. Perhaps we will end up understanding that we must stop colonizing the planet if we take into account objective data such as that concerning the biomass of vertebrates on Earth. It is 98% made up of man and his pets! Birds, foxes, elephants, rats, hedgehogs, in short all wild animals represent only 2%!

Covid-19 has highlighted our fear of death, even its refusal. Buddhism invites us to remain in daily contact with this reality.. What do you think ?

The Dalai Lama has this sentence that I find very accurate: “If you don't think about death every day, you haven't really lived”. We are all going to die, it is a certainty, so we must prepare for it so as not to fear the unknown.

Right now I think a lot about death, but I don't fear it. I remember a testimony that I had shot for my film Six billion more. It was a woman from Madagascar, who spoke poor French, could neither read nor write, who survived day-to-day life, and to whom I had asked: "What is your greatest dream?" She replied: "I would like to die with a smile." accept death is far more rewarding than spending your life fighting it. Giving, sharing, all this gives meaning to existence and makes it possible to magnify it.

“Accepting death is much easier and more rewarding than spending your life fighting it. »

In my photo studio, I have a cardboard coffin that was given to me, on which my grandchildren drew. It's the coffin that will hold my remains, and it doesn't bother me at all to have it in front of me; there's nothing morbid about it, as I explain to certain visitors who seem wary.

Is there a link between ecology and spirituality?

Yes. We need to operate a true interior revolution to change our way of considering the planet. It will not be political, it is illusory to expect everything from our elected officials. Nor will it be scientific: it is not enough to create machines to solve problems. For example, there will never be enough solar panels or wind turbines to replace the 110 million barrels of oil consumed every day! And it won't be economical since we can clearly see that most of our leaders and captains of industry swear by growth... For me, it's only by acting with kindness vis-à-vis the planet as well as ourselves that we will be able to change things in the long term and become more responsible and united.

And benevolence towards women who suffer many atrocities and injustices. At the beginning of March, you released Woman, a poignant film co-directed with Anastasia Mikova.

In my previous films, especially Human, we had not gone deep enough into this question: what does it mean to be a woman in a world of men in the 80st century? I was interested in the many injustices they face – why are 50% of illiterate people women? Why, when they provide 2% of the work, do they only own 2000% of the properties in the world? Anastasia wanted to broaden the subject by evoking the trials they go through in their lives, sexuality, periods, their relationship to beauty, etc. In total, we conducted 1 interviews! These are very strong testimonies that we could not share enough with the public, because the film was released in the midst of a pandemic. So we're going to release it on VOD. (XNUMX)

What did you learn from them during this shoot?

My view of women has evolved over the years. I'm part of a fairly macho generation, brought up in a family of seven children, with a father who ran everything and a retiring mother… It's more difficult to be a woman than a man in our modern societies. Because, beyond the fight for equal pay, they lead battles of all kinds. As a result, they have more ambition than men and above all, they don't give up. It should be noted that many of the great figures of the environment are women, such as the biologist Rachel Carson who had DDT banned (2), Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey (3), and that the countries which have female leaders (Iceland, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, etc.) offer the most humanistic policies.

Which women have influenced you the most?

There is this woman who opens the film, a Mexican who has experienced the worst horrors: raped by her grandfather, she flees her country and takes refuge in Japan, where she falls into the nets of the Japanese mafia who made her a sex slave for five years. She manages thanks to one of her “clients” who marries her and brings her to Canada where she gives birth to a child who suffers from a form of blindness. At that moment, she sinks, starts drinking and ends up getting out of this cycle to take care of her son. She then started running and became one of the best marathon runners in the world! For years, she refused to testify. But one day, at a conference in Mexico, she tells her story, and what she says then is incredible. For her, the hardest thing was not to face all these trials, but to give herself up on stage, to dare to tell her rapes! She made me realize that in addition to suffering atrocities, women must also overcome the pain and shame of breaking the silence. Some testimonies, such as those of women raped in the Congo or yezidi sold for a packet of cigarettes, are unbearable… But it's also a film full of hope, because the women are courageous and above all incapable of as much violence as the men.

photo of author

Sophie Solere

Sophie Solère is an economic and social journalist who has been interested for years in the environment and interdependence. She works for Buddhist News, a media platform dedicated to Buddhist spirituality and wisdom. By practicing yoga and meditative dance, Sophie discovered the power of spiritual journeys, which offer so many paths to (re)find yourself. She is dedicated to sharing inspiring stories and valuable advice on spiritual practice and the environment with Buddhist News readers.

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