Interview with Khaled Sabawi
As you may or may not know, I am a huge fan of movies and film but I also enjoy a great story. This interview will be a little different than your typical kind of interview. This is about our planet. Today, through the eyes of Khaled Sabawi, you will experience his story regarding climate change and also learn about Open Screenplay.
1. Can you describe what you learned about climate change on your journey to Greenland?
My expedition to Greenland was a sobering experience. It’s one thing to read data and statistics about climate change and it’s something else to experience it. Travelling to the edge of the world, near the centre-axis of our planet, I stood face to face with nature. I heard her silence. I witnessed the majestic beautify of her Arctic glaciers – a monumental expression of the delicate balance of our earth’s climate. It was a spiritual experience. Then, suddenly, I heard her roar in a thunderous cry as gigantic melting glaciers cracked and plunged into the sea before my eyes. It was heartbreaking as it was terrifying.
Watching the fallen glaciers cause the sea waters to produce an infant tsunami was like watching the birth-pangs of a giant destructive monster – a monster of chaos that has appeared in many of the cautionary flood myths told by our ancestors. I also learned – and witnessed – that in 2019 alone, the melt-extent of the Arctic glaciers reached over 40%, nine-times higher than the 1981-2010 median.
At the rate we’re going the temperature of our atmosphere will increase to a degree such that the Arctic glaciers will melt and sea levels will rise so high that entire countries will disappear and hundreds of millions of people will be displaced or will die. Scientists estimate that 50 million refugees will be created every year. If you have children right now, they will experience this devastating reality as adults. They will no longer use the word “myth” when referring to “the flood”.
2. How can human behaviour impact climate change? Khaled Sabawi, can we make a difference?
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who survived the horrors of the Gulag concentration camps in the former Soviet Union and was later awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature said, “there are as many centers of the universe as there are consciousnesses”. You are at the center of the universe. The path you take is the path we take. What you choose to do every single day matters. Watching gigantic glacier crumble before my eyes, I was reminded of those doomsday flood stories told by our ancestors.
So… I actually went back to reviewed them; and I was shocked to discover that almost every culture in our history has a world-destroying flood myth – the Greeks, Chinese, the Hindus, the ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia, the indigenous tribes of North America, the Abrahamic traditions – all tell stories of past civilizations that became so corrupt that a flood comes down and destroys the world.
Why did so many different cultures tell similar stories? It’s because they all recognized something universal about the nature of our world. When you read the stories metaphorically, you uncover a common theme – a message that our ancestors were trying to tell us which I detail in my blog post titled “The Flood is Coming: A Message from our Ancestors about Climate Change”.
What they say is that the decay of the physical world is the result of the psychological decay of the individuals that are living in it. Our ancestors were emphasizing the powerful role that the individual can play in destroying the world or…. protecting it.
3. Can you tell us about the short film screenplay contest?
After Greenland, I repeatedly asked myself: what can I do to help? As the Founder & CEO of a screenwriting community and platform with thousands of writers, I realized that there may be a way I can help. There is no doubt in my mind that stories are the most powerful way to convey a message. It’s the reason why our ancestors used storytelling as a way to pass down information and influence behavior over generations and across time. And the most powerful way to tell a story is through the mediums of film or television.
In addition to positively disrupting Hollywood by helping new voices emerge, I always hoped that Open Screenplay would become a platform that encourages writing screenplays and spreading stories about important causes and social justice issues. While visiting the arctic on a climate change expedition, I felt my own personal day to day problems melt away in insignificance when compared to the dire existential threat posed by climate change.
Thus, the team and I at Open Screenplay have decided to heed the warnings of our ancestors. We will leverage our screenwriting platform by hosting a short film contest and mobilizing writers from around the world to write stories about a topic that threatens our planet, our beautiful and most precious fragile structure: Climate Change.
4. How do people enter the contest? What should they be submitting? When is the deadline and what can you win?
The contest is free, global, and open to all. Participating is easy and simple. After signing up to http://www.openscreenplay.com, there are two ways people can participate, by starting a new short film and writing it directly on Open Screenplay or find a short film screenplay to contribute as our platform facilitates collaboration. Participates submit a finished screenplay for judging by our team and advisory board. The contest will close on February 29th, 2020.
5. Just for fun. If you were to travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would take the journey within; travel internally, into my own unconscious. We live in a time where science has intimately explored the nature of our reality by analyzing and measuring objects in outer space and on the quantum level. But questions like “what is consciousness?” and “what is the source of life?” still remaining unanswered. I think the new frontier in science is the exploration of inner space, the space within.
I know this not the answer you were expecting and I risk sounding too abstract. In my reading of comparative mythology, however, I learned that the oldest stories told by our ancestors are actually metaphors and symbolic representations of the desires, fears, and unknown forces emerging from our own unconscious. The common patterns in those stories, also known as “the heroes journey” – the journey of every individual – is a journey of self-exploration; a journey to the unknown, to the depths of one’s own unconscious.
It’s a journey to the center of the universe. The more we explore the unknown within, the better we can navigate the unknown without.