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Archive for April, 2013

Make a wish… what would it be?

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For me, it would be to create and foster a Culture of Care for the Earth, moving humankind out of this age that is a culture of consuming the Earth. It would be the end of the Age of Earth as merely Resource for man’s industrial progress and the Beginning of an Age of Tending the Earth in recognizing it is our only habitat home and its resources and life simply amazing in the grand scheme of things. Like when viewed from space.

That’s my wish: inspiring everyone possible to leave behind the old and grey, smoke and churning of toxins that is the Normal now and taking real steps forward into seeing and working with the Earth as the miracle it is.

Progress is great; can’t we now do it without polluting? A Culture of Care would find the solution to do that.

Money that comes from progress, development in nations, growing economies — these are all great especially as they help to feed the hungry, support literacy and open our eyes to our common heart as a species. A Culture of Care rather than our current Culture of Consumption would create the solutions to achieve all these while working in partnership with what we have here on Earth, rather than be based on destroying what we have.

A home planet where we keep in conservation the original models, areas of land and ocean habitat sufficient to resolve the damage already done to the environment as an intricate web, allowing us a ‘back up’ in case of human mistake, this too is possible when progress and daily living now is based on a Culture of Care.

We have the solutions needed for this; what we need is a change of heart and a change of ‘bottom line’; it’s based by living a Culture of Care for our Earth-home.

Everyone of you has a role to play and a position of power to use in shifting us toward this new paradigm.

It starts inside and is revealed in your actions, large and small, but now.

We do engage the Earth, our home and habitat, differently if we see it as a miracle.

That’s my wish for today.

What’s yours?

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What kinds of writing should be in a reader — or class discussion —which will inform and teach ourselves and our next generation about our engagement with Nature, with Earth, as sacred, as possession, as home, as habitat, as source of life for all time?

I opened at random a favorite book . . . and here is a good bit of a beginning from a colleague I’ve long warmly admired:

 

The possibility has yet to be realized of a synthesis between the benevolent wolf of many native American stories and the malcontented wolf of most European fairy tales. . . . Were we to perceive such a synthesis, it would signal a radical change in man. For it would mean that he had finally quit his preoccupation with himself and begun to contemplate a universe in which he was not central. The terror inherent in such a prospect is of course, greater than that in any wolf he has ever written about. But equally vast is the possibility for heroism, humility, tragedy, and the other virtues of literature.

Barry Lopez, Of Wolves and Men, 1978

 

With my own writing on the Wolf and its return to the Western U.S. (Buzzworm, see a bit at my portfolio and the article here, I learned the animal was everything but simply a mammal and co-inhabitor of our habitat. So did the Fish and Wildlife Service employees trying to help it to return to our habitat.

How do we see the wolf now? Is it different than in 1978 when Barry wrote, or in 1991, when I did? What does Wolf mean to you? To your child or teenager?

Now there’s a good dinnertime conversation!

More importantly, the threshold noted in Barry Lopez’ eloquent thought — that man had finally quit his preoccupation with himself and begun to contemplate a universe in which he was not central — that is the threshold I hope we can achieve by creating a culture of care for our Home.

It starts with a conversation between hearts at the table.

Gray Wolf. Credit: Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf / USFWS

Gray Wolf. Credit: Tracy Brooks/Mission Wolf / USFWS

 

 

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Picture

Historical photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management, USA

We, none of us, ever know when we are living in the moment that will be pointed to in time to come as the defining moment.

 

We might have a vague feeling that our daily lives are, to borrow from 20th C history, similar to the days of living in the ‘tinderbox of Europe’ or the last days of the Belle Epoch. But we don’t know until the War to End All Wars has come and gone and we are on the other side of it, that we were on a precipice, having ‘lived’ through the ravages history creates in our lives, whether in families or in nations or in the world wholly.  Surely then, as now, there were warning voices for decades before such large-scale changes that made “history” took place. And surely then, as now, the people hearing them heeded or ignored, worried and debated, and no doubt felt too small to do much of anything to change the forces of such global change.

I feel strongly that this, too, is one of those times. In observing all the evidence discovered, reported on and written about during my own long career as a conservation journalist, these last 30 years reveal all the signs of warnings, worries, and moments of opportunities gone unheeded by us in meeting the imbalance  our industrial society has pressed upon our natural Home and Habitat.

At my personal website  elizabethdarby.com, I was going to write about volcanoes and whether they are good or bad for climate change  . . . but I found the geologic and atmospheric research so profoundly sad and the amount we now know about the Earth’s natural forces so profoundly amazing, that I instead resolved to look for good, for change, for a moment of brilliance in environmental solutions rather than just more sad, bad news.

After decades of writing about the environment, the wilderness, the Land and loss of wildlife, reporting on such omni-disasters takes its toll on the soul;  constantly ringing alarm bells make one as welcome as the original Pandora. A bit — actually a lot — of news that speaks to human creativity and resolve in meeting and solving our challenges is badly needed.

 

I have in mind an adjunct project to this Earth: Sacred/Possession book and curriculum I’m working on which is to create a new environmental journal to be titled Re/Solve. It will focus on solutions — to conservation disasters, micro- and macro-shambles occurring, whether in village, city, valley, wilderness or range— offering not just the small and mostly insufficient actions offered elsewhere, but rather real, simple and successful solutions. And the challenge is how to reach the 2/3 of the world that is without internet access to provide these simple now solutions that can be undertaken at the family and village level

And in setting out on this course, I found this recent Ted talk by Allan Savory. linked below . . .

 

Ironically, I met Allan Savory over 25 years ago — when as a young staff reporter for Newsweek, I was trying to change national journalism from within to create  a ‘news-beat’ on environmental and conservation issues, and on environment as national (and international) security. It hadn’t really been done at the national scale in the late 1970s and early 1980s and certainly not by a female journalist back then as it was still a man’s domain, this environmental reporting stuff.

In attempting this, I relentlessly sent ‘environmental’ stories to my beleaguered and patient editors at Newsweek, Allan being among the many. While I wrote 5,000 word articles on the complex emerging environmental issues, my editors dutifully reworked them into 750-word boxed features, save for drought and desertification of our nation’s agricultural lands. For that we achieved an award-winning cover article and I an early reporting award.

Allan had recently emigrated from Zimbabwe and was working on the damaged and desertified rangelands of my native Rocky Mountain West. His ideas for ending desertification of rangelands were shocking at the time – more livestock, not less — but I watched as his calm insistence in hotel conference rooms and meeting halls, small town by small town, won over ranchers throughout the Intermountain West.

Now I see here that Allan has an idea — a brilliance based on his life’s very important work — that will no doubt prove to be an even more important answer to climate change, writ global.

He offers an approach, a solution, a something regions, localities, individuals and nations can do. And his calm insistence that he is profoundly right demonstrates the kind of resolve I hope to have grace the content of my dream project of Re/Solve.

Take time to absorb this great solution, as nearly a million others watching TED already have… For Allan, his talk represents a lot of years of work. Thank you for your gracious persistence, Allan!

 

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© 2011 Elizabeth Darby; a View from a place called Home, UK
All rights reserved; please contact me before reposting as a courtesy.

Possession

Possess

Possessed

To be

Taken Over

Whether by God or by Human or by demons . . .

Funny how such a word <possession> has so many possibilities.

Earth: Sacred/Possession

When I wrote the title for this blog and the forthcoming book project, it just seemed like the Right Question.

And I’m finding there is nuance to it.

Does Possession in my project’s title mean  possession by God, or of God?

By humans or of humans?

Is the Earth, the land of earth, the inhabitants, habitat, place of our lives a thing owned — in which case are we also ‘things’ when we are taken over as in the common use of the word ‘possessed’ in the spiritual sense?

Are we possessed by the Land as it defines us, as in where we are born, how we identify our soul or personality’s substance (as in “I’m from _______” and thus it defines our very Self as individuals, families, histories and cultures, not to mention our dreams, destinies and wealth or power?

When I envisioned the title, the book and the hoped-for curriculum emerging from this project, the immediate use of Earth as Possession was — at least for a moment — clear to me:

Earth as possession is something someone owns, despite cultures throughout time and place which argue it is impossible to ‘own or possess’ the Land itself. Yet whenever we make an object of it, and buy and sell turf or fight wars over it, we reduce Earth, the Land, to a possession. Is this what we choose to do? Is this sustainable, this perception of our habitat as a possession?

But in going deeper, it is not so clear this concept of Habitat, Land, Home, Earth and how our language defines our relationship with it.

Back to Eric Partridge’s Origins for help:

L potis

a master of (especially property);

has a derivative possidere, literally to sit as master of, to make oneself master of,

to occupy as an act of possession —

Ah, but there’s more to this. The spiritual sense of ‘possession’ as  a demonic force apparently didn’t come into common use in English until the 1530’s. More on that in a subsequent post, but historians will recognize the time as one of religious upheaval in England, when monasteries were ripped down and “witch” trials against followers of the goddess Diana in Spain and its colonies in the wilderness of the New World were underway. A dark time when open engagement with God’s creation was suspect… But more on that later.

According to Partridge, ‘possession’ in the 1400s had a sense of “to have and to hold” as in a bridegroom unto beloved. Power-holder, yes, but the spiritual sense of ‘possession’ was yet in terms of husbanding and the clear connection to the sacred with the symbolism inherent in bridegroom as used in biblical terms.

Is there yet more to this curious concept of possession? Yes, as always a contradiction:

n posse

to have power, to be able to [do something],

 especially exercising one’s ability or mastery or power

A root of possession is ‘being able to master or power’ and it is this relationship we all enter into every moment of every day when both thinking and especially not thinking about how our land, our Earth, sustains us. This is not a bridegroom coming to ‘husband’ a land, but something much darker.

And yet there is more: the idea of Earth being possessed by God and, as Psalm 24:1, thought to have been written about 1000 BC, goes: “The earth is the Lord’s and all that therein is : the compass of the world, and they that dwell therein . . . ”

In this engagement, we and the Earth, all of everything, is a possession of God’s; there is no distinction between humans and God’s Creation as the new Pope Francis evokes in his early homilies, asking all of the world’s people, regardless of religion power or mastery, to care for all of God’s Creation. Earth as Sacred/Possession.

But there is still more:

Hidden among the historical roots of this L posse and L potis, is also, perhaps most importantly, the root of the word we know as possibility.

That is, the personal power to make something happen.

And, as we know, there is great possibility if —

— If we define our tomorrows feeling  the Earth to be our Home, our Habitat, our Garden for our children and engaging with it under the mastery of our careful interconnectedness.

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