Today I read two things that affected me profoundly.
My “reading book” at the moment is Babylon’s Ark by Lawrence Anthony (with Graham Spence).
Lawrence Anthony, who died very recently at the age of 61 was a conservationist of tremendous vision, founder of the Earth Organisation. His wonderful book The Elephant Whisperer tells of the friendship he built with wild elephants at Thula Thula, the patch of Zululand he gave back to the animals. He received the UN’s Earth Day award for his work in Baghdad (the subject of Babylon’s Ark), where he went into the chaos after the fall of that city to find and help the animals trapped there in the Baghdad Zoo.
When he arrived he found that anything not nailed to the ground (and a great deal that was) fell prey to systematic looting in the lawlessness of a theatre of war.
In describing the looting, he said:
“I watched all this with old, tired eyes. The symbolism was stark. This wasn’t only about Baghdad; it wasn’t about Iraq.
It was about all of us.
It’s what we are doing to our planet. Looting it.”
Then today also, I read an interview with Thich Nhat Hanh (revered Buddhist teacher and monk) about our relationship with the Earth.
The interview came in two parts. Part One is here. Part Two is here. I strongly recommend you read them both.
In the second part, Thich Nhat Hanh talks about the attitudes we can bring to life and human community that can result in the healing and wellbeing of all creation and of human society.
In the first part, he addresses the stark fact that if we continue to follow our present choices, we probably have 100 years left on Earth. 100 years.
I would trust Thich Nhat Hanh. He is intelligent, realistic, well-researched, capable of both empathy and objective thinking. A wise, compassionate and supremely rational man. His spiritual training has served him well. He lays before us the facts: that every day a hundred species go into extinction because of us – because of our merciless depredation of the rainforest. About two hundred thousand species every year.
Every day I live on this beautiful Earth makes it clearer to me why I feel the desperate urgency I do to really live and really love; not to be distracted or preoccupied; to struggle free if I can from consumerism and the rat race; to have time to look at – really gaze upon and love – the azure sky, the sparkling ocean, the new green growth of Spring, intoxicating in overflowing life. To love the Earth in all her weathers and moods, and keep coming back again and again to the task at which I repeatedly fail – to live faithfully in this task that God in ancient days entrusted to my race; the unbelievable honour of being the stewards of the Earth.
Our failure has been absolute. There is not long left. But even with all we have done to it – and with the coarse, selfish, blind greed of my species blaring from every political podium, every store, every television set, every magazine, every complacent assumption – I love this beautiful Earth that God made and gave us to love. I love her so much.
(if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)
This has made one small child after another most happy :0)