It’s a while since I’ve written. The world has begun to feel like a different place. It seems that the trajectory on which humanity has placed itself is one of utter disregard for any species other than that of Homo Sapiens. The irony does not escape me that the translation of those Latin words to describe human beings means literally “wise man.”
In all our “wisdom” have we ever stopped to think that perhaps we are not the rulers of the natural world, but actually dependent on the biodiversity of all other species? A part of the whole, rather than the whole? Does it ever occur to us that the rapid extinction of “lesser” species will actually contribute to our own downfall? There’s a fascinating article by Matthew Hall suggesting that our Creation story has in fact given it to us that plants and animals are on the Earth for the sake of human beings, for us to use as we see fit, with no regard for individual species. But, he writes, we need to recognise the intrinsic value of biological diversity for our own survival – and now, more than ever before. We humans are arrogant, believing ourselves to be invincible, but as we destroy ever more species, our Jenga tower is at risk of toppling.
I am in awe of the public awareness-raising by such notable people as David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and Roger Hallam (co-founder of XR.) And I am appalled by the “fiddling while Rome burns” approach of politicians worldwide to our planetary crisis. Don’t they realise, for example, that it won’t actually matter two hoots whether or not we are in or out of the EU, if our planetary infrastructure colllapses to the point of food being unavailable? This situation is a daily problem in many parts of the world already, but we in the West have been able to turn a blind eye…for now…
It is frightening. In fact, terrifying. I’m a grandmother, and all I can think is that my grandson needs a world to grow up in. I feel small, I feel insignificant, I feel helpless. I have written to my MP, David Gauke, and received the usual smug, “we’re already world leaders” party line replies. I’ve attended XR meetings and the demonstrations this autumn in Trafalgar Square. I no longer intend to fly, I’m vegetarian, I walk to the supermarket and try to buy as little plastic as possible. I put on another jumper instead of the heating. These are all miniscule drops in the vast ocean of what is required. We’ll need forceful laws which will be incredibly unpopular – and what are the chances of this, as yet another General Election is on the horizon? That will focus on people-pleasing. The trouble is, that people-pleasing can only ever be short term unless politicians really do something to redress the terrible situation humanity finds itself in.
Matthew Hall also writes that science has shown for many years that there is a kinship between us and nature – and yet we don’t live like this. Our Creation story continues to be upheld, that other species are there FOR us. But he writes that there is hope. At the school climate strike in New York recently, a young Brazilian Indigenous woman addressed the crowd, speaking in terms of kinship about the human children of a Mother Earth, fighting to save their mother from destruction, which received an enthusiastic response.
This is our challenge – to reframe the living world in terms of kinship, so that we feel grateful to every living species, and understand each one’s importance to the whole, rather than having some fabricated right to use up every resource on the planet for our own benefit. I feel sure there is so much more to write, for example about the modern world’s focus on money, fame, social media, individualism and materialism, at the cost of any sense of real connection to a greater whole. But for now, this is enough. It’s time to exercise our innate wisdom.