DM: While making the film, what was the most illuminating thing you found?
PR: The unity that lies between human beings and binds people together and is so misconstrued to tear us apart. And I found it surprising that on the ground level people are very, very—there’s a lot of godliness within them, if you can use that word, and you can use that word because “god” is a word that can describe an entity that does bind people together in the humanity of it all. I found so much similarity between religions and also indigenous belief systems and also philosophies, like Buddhism, and Zen, and Shinto, and polytheistic religions and the three monotheistic religions. And I found the prophets of all three monotheistic religions were really just wonderfully enlightened human beings who were saying probably the same thing and it became a code of practice for many, and a very good one. And I often say—well, I believe you can almost boil it down to understand the true essence of what these prophets say and do for their religions is the same thing that binds humanity together and should be the code of practice that we should all use, and that is the Ten Commandments for Judaism, the Five Pillars of Islam for Muslims and for me really, the Sermon on the Mount for Christianity. And these are codes of practice which are commonplace and actually exist anyway innately when we’re born.
The trouble is that when we’re manipulated by our surroundings, or when we’re affected by our surroundings, that’s when children—where I really do feel the sense of purity and goodness in their eyes—start to change, and we start reacting from the things we’ve been told by our parents, our friends, our society, our religion if it’s not put across in the right way (the right way being what the prophets had talked about), the culture, and probably the politics of the country we’re born into. And that’s where I think conflict comes, where there’s misunderstanding. What I found beautiful about my journey of making this film was in the unity of the human spirit, and that’s on an individual basis. When people are corralled into groups, those groups can then be used to act out nefarious agendas for those that control and are the gatekeepers of those groups, which is where I think the whole concept of God becomes misaligned and causes conflict.
A big motivating factor for me to make this film is to understand the unity between human beings and to listen and understand what great people said—great prophets have said— [and] realize it’s very, very similar and promote some form of tolerance between everybody.