The Battle for Meaning (working title v.2)

For many centuries we humans have been harming each other, even killing each other over what we believe. We can not continue harming in this way. To continue will lead us to destruction even greater than the atrocity of the Holocaust, the anguish of September 11, and the drawn-out tragedy of the conflicts that have followed September 11. We must change our behaviors, and to do that we must change the ways we relate to our own beliefs and to those of others.

Beliefs often give our lives meaning. Like air, food, shelter and security, finding meaning in our lives is one of our human needs necessary for survival. But perhaps holding beliefs too tightly - especially dogmatic ones - can strangle our chances for hearing each other and ever getting what we need. It can blind us, divide us, and may in time kill us as a species.

BEYOND BELIEF explores ways of finding common ground – even among those who cling to radically conflicting religious, political and personal beliefs.

BEYOND BELIEF looks at such conflicts and attempts to deconstruct their origins. Through examples, we discover people and communities who have taken bold steps to heal from the destructive consequences of their beliefs.

BEYOND BELIEF presumes that humans take on belief and behaviors attempting to satisfy needs - needs that are common to most of us. This film takes a compassionate look beyond certain harming beliefs and asks what is possible and what we must do to survive happily and peacefully.



We are looking for your suggestions about actual unique and compelling stories that portray this struggle!

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In addition, we will be gathering a series of informal interviews with ordinary and noted men and women from different social strata, occupations, belief systems, and traditions (both in the U.S. and in other countries).

The film will explore the diverse views of (as examples only): people on the street, a peace activist, a conservative radio talk show host, a Buddhist monk, Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Hindu theologians and fundamentalists, spiritual teachers, U.S. and foreign political leaders, an international conflict mediator, a Native American elder, a Palestinian, a Zionist, a peace psychologist, a Christian missionary, an American businessman, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, etc.

But most importantly, we will investigate real-life stories of people in conflict who have dared to go beyond their established beliefs to find a new freedom.


How the film project Beyond Belief came to be

I searched my soul in the traumatic aftermath of September 11: “What are the real causes behind such unconscionable actions?” I wanted to look beyond the simple reductionistic ideas of people as “good” and “evil” and find a deeper cause.

I asked myself, “What would an examined holistic approach to peace look like?” It was from this question that the Peace Topics Outline came into being. It was intended for my own contemplation and, ultimately, for interview topics for use in the original version of this film.

Practically every religion and spiritual tradition promotes a life of happiness and peacefulness. Making such a life real, however, is not a simple task and requires more than a simple commitment. “Most want change, but few are willing to do what it takes to change themselves.”

As I went deeper into these questions it dawned on me that violent conflict between humans will not end until we can consider other’s authentic needs and feelings. I saw that the strategies for getting those needs met are sometimes deeply flawed and deeply counterproductive in the long run. I have also come to see that many of us cling to beliefs as survival strategies or to maintain a relative degree of comfort.

Beneath the belief system, however, is often fear and insecurity. It is simply what we were taught.

In trying to find fundamental questions that shine a light on obstacles to peace I re-focused and re-framed the film’s goals.

Is it a given that people will continue to cling to mutually exclusive and competing beliefs even unto death? Is adhering to certain beliefs more important than getting what we really need? Despite evidence that heightened fear and insecurity is a consequence of some of our collective beliefs, I “believe” all believers can find common ground. Clearly we will never find agreement at the level of conflicting belief systems. Then, where? Can we meet beyond the realm of beliefs?

Does a healthy body require peaceful coexistence with all of its parts? I think so. Will people who rigidly hold beliefs on any side of the spectrum risk stepping “outside of the box” to get what they really need? I think so. Hence the film...

This is a journey into questioning what we understand to be the nature of our beliefs. My hope is to produce a film that will engage most mature teens and adults from almost all belief systems. Is it possible? Can we find a way?

Let the journey continue..! Please help this project with your welcomed suggestions and ideas.

Jim Lemkin, ND


YOU CAN HELP THIS PROJECT with your suggestions, visions, and much needed tax-deductible 501(c)3 donations.

Contact us at: Horse Mountain Institute, Inc.

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