We Can’t Look Away and We Can’t Give Up

Posted on 19 August 2018

Baby Elephant

We are the forest and each tree.
We’re the ocean and every sweet droplet therein.
We are the flower and the field.
We’re alone, we are all life.

And our hearts call for loving as we are.
And our souls call for oneness in the silence of the night.
We think we are separate when our fates are shared.

The rains fall,
We don’t hear the call:
Be one, be all.

Be all…

Heard of Elephants 2016

The boy asked me question after question. He was curious about my work in theatre. I told him about my latest project to do with elephant conservation. Part of this show had to do with how climate change was pushing our entire biosphere to the limit.

“Elephants poop”, I said. This caught his attention. “Their poop provides the nutrients for the Congo forest to grow. When the leaves fall and other plants reach the end of their lifecycles, they are washed out by the Congo rivers to the ocean where they become food for the plankton. The plankton then creates the oxygen we all breathe. No matter where we are on the planet, we are breathing elephants.” He liked the sound of that.

Sadly I added, because of climate change the forests are being cut down to create new farmland and the farmers are killing the elephants to protect their crops. But who is protecting the elephants and the forests, and feeding the plankton, so we can all breathe?

Next time I met this boy he came up to tell me that his father said climate change isn’t real, and if it is, they will just move to where they can be safe. His family were wealthy and could afford to comfortably translocate to someplace where certain realities were unlikely to touch them.

I was flabbergasted. This was not an outright denial of climate change. It was a denial of its personal relevance, and thereby a denial of the value of all but a few human beings. I so wanted this kid to question his father. I wanted him to be upset because he cared about his school mates. I had scared him and he didn’t want to be scared. His father’s shallow reassurances had the ring of sensibility about them. So he grabbed for that reassurance with a dogmatic intensity.

I had failed in my message, because it is much easier to rely on the opinions of those closest to us. Whether they are right or wrong, at least you have their companionship and acceptance, provided you validate their outlook. Fear makes many people bunch up more closely. They will deny the truth in order to avoid ostracism and isolation. This does not mean they disbelieve you at all. However, they are unlikely to own up to their misgivings.

Most people will recognise that we have three critical problems currently dogging our planet:

~ Chaotic weather.

~ Loss of jobs.

~ Abuse of power.

If we start digging into why we are facing these issues and who or what is responsible, then that’s where opinion becomes divided and over-heated. No one likes giving up privileges or comforts. No one likes shouldering burdensome responsibility. As such blame gets shifted onto convenient targets, or the problems become invisible through denial or deliberate ignorance. “Our challenges must be the fault of refugees, ISIS, people of color, etc. Climate change doesn’t exist, but if it does, it’s the fault of the Chinese, an international conspiracy, or government regulation,” squawk the pundits who are converting fear into paychecks.

We can afford to ignore these pundits. However, when it comes to the dangers facing our civilisation and our planet–we can’t look away and we can’t give up! The change we need is such a momentous task that we must find one another in order to give ourselves strength.

Trying to face the world’s problems alone is a crushing endeavour. My writing this book helps me to find my peeps. Your reading this book helps you to find your peeps. Talking about the ideas you find here will continue the process of discovering our community of peeps. This needs to be done in a manner that respects diversity and creates interdependence, as opposed to the suffocating conformity demanded by fear.

So, when I lay out a few facts here, instead of letting yourself feel overwhelmed: feel the anger and the sadness, recognise where those feelings come from–you care, then find and spend both face and online time with people who share those feelings.

The fact that you care will make it possible for you to gaze deeply into our world’s problems. The fact that you care will be the foundation for finding solutions to these problems, because caring in and of itself is the solution. We don’t need new machines to change the future: we need bigger imaginations, bigger hearts, and better ways to find unity among ourselves and all life!

This is from a book I am writing on Wattpad.

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