Archive for May, 2012

Friends with the Earth

Heard recently: “I really admire and appreciate everything you all do, as Friends of the Earth.  The Earth needs more friends.  I have a bokashi bucket at home, that I put my food scraps in.  That’s how I do my bit for the Earth.”

This sounds like a messed-up idea of friendship.  Imagine describing a friendship with a person like that.  “I’m a great friend of Joe’s.  I put things in a bucket, that’s how I help him out.”

How’s this for a more realistic representation of friendship:  “I’m a friend of Gaia.  We spend a lot of time together.  We sing, and dance, and we play together.  I take long walks with her, and she tells me many stories, of the places and beings that we encounter along the way.  I can sit for hours, in silence, just being present with her.  She is so wise, and has experienced so much.  I’ve learned everything I know from her.  Yet there are parts of her I don’t understand, and maybe never will.  Sometimes she scares me.  She means the world to me.  I would do anything to protect her.  I would give my life.”  Gaia might be the name of a person, an animal, a river, or the Earth.

We could all do with more friendships like these.  We can all be friends with forests, insects, mountains, oceans and spirits.  Friends with the Earth.

Friends of the Earth doesn’t share my understanding of friendship.  They advocate injuring, cutting and poisoning their so-called friend, creating toxic fumes that make it hard for her to breathe.  They call her a resource, and promote ripping her apart, to build machines.  Machines to make electricity.  Machines that are built by mining, extracting oil, manufacturing, transporting, polluting.  Poisoning towns, rivers, farmland and air.  Machines that destroy the lives of humans, nonhumans, rivers and Earth.  Forever.  They call these machines Renewable Energy.

The Earth doesn’t need renewable energy, or plastic buckets.  She needs true friends.  Friends who will protect her.  Friends who listen, and sing, and dance, and play with her.  Friends who will give their life.

photo credit

Reality check for survivalists

Reality check.  So you reckon you’re ready for this collapse, this energy descent, economic crisis, peak oil, climate change, earthquake, alien invasion, or whatever possible disaster might befall us.  You’re ready for civilization to fall off this cliff it has been racing towards, refusing to acknowledge its position on the precipice.  You’ve got a parachute.  You’ll glide down gently.  It’s other people, those who haven’t prepared themselves, who need to watch where they’re going.

Reality check.  You might have your parachute, and it might well save you.  The only issue is this. When everyone else around you sees that you have a parachute — and it’s not something you can hide — they will want it.  They will fight you for it.  They will kill you for it.  Or they will plead for it.  Or they will ask nicely, “could we share it?” and you will take pity on them.  Or they will sabotage it.  Probably all of these.  Your parachute doesn’t stand a chance.

There’s not enough parachutes for all of us.  Maybe you have your vegie garden, which despite it’s small size and minor contribution to your overall food needs, has you convinced that you’ll out-survive the neighbours.  You’ve got your rainwater tank, your tinned food, or your gold under the bed.  You’ve got your guidebook to wild edibles, and your backpack full of protein pills, water filter and first aid kit so you can run away from anything.  You’ve got your neighbourhood sustainability group talking about solar panels and recycling.

Reality check.  Unless you’ve got a way to thrive beyond civilization, not just for you, but your seven or eight or nine billion nearest neighbours, no-one survives unharmed.

Anything could happen.  Nothing you do will protect you from every imaginable disaster.  And if you do survive, you’ll still be living in fear, because there will always be more disasters to prepare for.

While you worry about impending doom and future scenarios, your life is wasting away, destroyed by anxiety about what might never happen.

Reclaim your life.  You’re living now.  Make it meaningful, for yourself and everyone else.  Then when things get interesting, more interesting than things already are, you’ll be ready to deal with it.  You’ll be there, totally present, and prepared in a way that no amount of planning could ever get you.