Documentary Film: UNITY
Documentary Film: UNITY, 2015 (Trailer)
The documentary film UNITY was released last night—for one night only—in a thousand theaters worldwide. Audiences experienced the rare opportunity to be transformed by its compelling message of change from “Living by killing” to “Living by loving.” The film advocates that it’s time for us to live fully conscious lives of compassion that embraces all living beings, not only some.
The opening scene set the powerful tone of the film. Two frantic, terrorized cows are trapped in a holding pen before the doors open to the slaughterhouse floor. One cow is forced to go through the doors, leaving the other behind, alone. The cow left behind exhibits sheer panic, terror and overwhelming fear at what it senses is about to happen. It helplessly paces back and forth, trapped in the holding pen as it tries to escape. It waits in complete terror sensing and knowing something terrible is beyond the doors. Time slows down as we uncomfortably watch the cow’s suffering and anguish. “Consciousness is when we feel the suffering of every living creature in our own hearts,” the narrator says as the cow frantically waits. The film asks us, why do we see opposites in one another? Why do we see animals as opposites or somehow different from us that allows us not to see and feel their suffering, their anguish, their torment? Why do we ignore their suffering? If we are living, conscious beings as they are, how can we cause other beings to suffer so deliberately and cruelly at our own hands and choices? UNITY asks us to change our current way of thinking that is based on our “separation from other beings and non-human animals,” and our “disconnection from other beings” as well as our “perceiving opposites” in others including non-human animals. The film points out that this way of thinking has been our excuse for hundreds of years of chronic violence, wars, systemic killing and suffering—both human and animal. The central message is, “We’re not the same, but we’re equal.”
The film posits that humans have become so preoccupied with the “externalization of our lives”—with our obsession to dominate, to control, to rule over, to win, to impress, and to look better than others—but at the expense of what? And at whose expense? Who suffers the most as a result of this constant domination? The domination comes at the expense of all beings—animal and human. The film poses the question, “How can we find pleasure in contributing to so much bloodshed, so much suffering, so much killing and slaughter?” We each individually contribute to this suffering through the products we buy, our unconscious, engrained habits, and the way we live our lives. If we truly are what we eat, why “do we eat in such a way that doesn’t cleanse, but rather pollutes the human body?” Why do we eat a diet that causes disease, chronic illness, clogged arteries, arteriosclerosis, heart disease, strokes and premature death from animal fat and meat? Why do we eat the suffering, anguish, pain, torment, and grief that comes from eating animals?
The film points out that wild animals that are herbivores generally experience no chronic and acute disease like meat-eating humans do. At one point, the filmmakers visit a hospital operating room and show a heart by-pass surgery close-up with clogged arteries caused by years of eating animal fat. It visually underlines the link between heart disease and eating animal products. The irony pointed out by the movie is “because we eat animals—they end up ultimately killing us.”
Though only 14 minutes of the film is focused on animals (out of a total 140 minutes), some of the most poignant and heart-wrenching real-life scenes are with animals. In one scene, film makers visit a dairy farm where baby calves are being taken away from their mothers and killed so that cow’s milk can go to humans. The mother cow bellows in anger and despair. The baby calf does too. The film asserts that humans are the only species on the planet that drinks milk beyond early infant hood, and the only species on earth that drinks the milk of another species. By drinking milk from mother cows, we force mother cows into a constant cycle of pregnancy in order to give birth to produce milk for humans—and their babies are killed so we can have their babies’ milk. The mother cows suffer a constant and relentless cycle of pregnancy, birth and the ripping away of their calves, until their bodies are completely exhausted, depleted and broken from this forced cycle. The calves that are not immediately killed often tragically become veal calves that live short, painful, confined, immobile lives of suffering to create white veal meat for humans.
Practicing compassion crosses all species. Compassion is when we feel the suffering of all creatures, not only some. The film’s message about how we are now “Living by killing” suggests and underlines a better way to live. In fact, it’s the only way, if we are to survive. “Living by loving” extends to humans and animals alike. Our eating animals is not a necessity, it’s purely a choice. It’s well documented that people live longer and healthier lives on a plant-based diet that doesn’t contribute to early death, which is statistically highlighted in numerous research studies. “We are here to go beyond the primal function,” the film points out. Why do some people not believe that all beings don’t deserve moral consideration? Why do we love and save some people but not others? Or rescue and love some animals like dolphins, but have apathy and show complete indifference toward cows, pigs and chickens? Aren’t they really all the same? If we are all one together on this planet—and this is the first law of life—when will we show kindness, sympathy and compassion for all living, sentient beings?
There is consciousness in animals as in humans. The movie poses the challenge that we need to get “beyond our destruction of life.” We need to overcome the primitive self that reinforces “speciesism, sexism, racism—-that work only to separate ourselves so we can use repression and abuse for our personal gain.” In the U.S., these forms of separating have become so institutionalized and engrained as a system of prejudice against other life.
The film compels us to change. It affirms that each of us is responsible for changing the way we think, the way we act, and the way we live in this world. The film asks each one of us to lead with our hearts instead of our egos, and to awaken our consciousness to having greater compassion. It asks us to live lives that are kind to every expression of life. “The brutality that we extend to others and to animals is a product of our ‘disconnecting’ and ‘separating’ from other beings and species.” The lesson to learn is “Living by killing” can be transformed into “Living by loving” through becoming fully conscious, compassionate beings toward all human and non-human beings.
The solution and change is within each of us. The choice is ours. Everyday.
Join the UNITY Movement
Where to see the film
- Writer and Director, Shaun Monson
- Executive Producer, Dieter Paulmann
- Narration, 100 celebrities narrate the film