The search for a promised land
I write this account and pull together my 50 years of life’s observations at a time when we celebrate 50 years of earthrise that first image of a dawn of a new earth as Jim Lovell and his fellow adventurers took that trip round the dark side of the moon, lost touch with all humanity and returned with that iconic image which where we do so much to destroy life.
I call this story a search for the promised land because I feel, as I grew up, I was promised an earth where animals and man dwell in harmony. I grew up with wonderful stories from Watership Down to Lord of the Rings, from Christian stories of the triumph of love, to Aesop’s Fables where life is a lesson and where all our heroes keep striving for truth and justice and where in the end we find peace and success. I was brought up with Sunday school and a grandmother with a strong moral compass and I believe that good wins in the end. I also have enjoyed other stories where we face great trials and find a way to freedom. From William Wallace to Cool Hand Luke most of my stories seem to have a sad epitaph, whether its Christ’s crucifixion or Silent Runnings suicide. And so, I look back on my life and see I have not put my life on the line. I haven’t sacrificed so much, and now 50 years older; I wonder what I will spend the rest of my years doing – can I find a promised land where man and animals dwell in peace? We most surely need a new earth and we need to realise our place not as the most valuable species but as the caretaker of greater creatures than ourselves. Just like in Aesop’s Fables, the animals are our heroes’. They are the ones daily risking it all for a simple life singing, calling, blessing and creating new life in places where hell seems to abound.
It is now over 50 years since Silent Spring the book was written and amazingly there are still parts of the world where DDT is still manufactured. We allowed the agricultural industry for that is what it is to destroy so many wonderful creatures which kill insects indiscriminately and create a genocide of the wild areas where we once played. Agriculture is no custodian of the countryside, not unless it is organic or follows far greener principles. There is a world of difference between the agriculture of the 1970s and that now. There are only tighter margins and ever more profit required. There is no promised land in the fields I walk these days just the ever-dwindling wild creatures struggling at the edges. Even in my adopted home on the edge of the highlands, I see few wild spaces where nature is left undisturbed. Those uplands are burned for heather and grouse and it is such a lesson of the lies of landowners to see the red kite flourish in Oxfordshire while it struggles to spread across Scotland.
However, this story is not about loss, nor about failure. It is about struggle and ultimately victory. For I still hold a vision of an earth where we live equally with our fellow forms of life. Where a frog is as beloved as your pet dog, where a milk cow is treated as a mother, your mother, and where a pig is held in high regard and not in a concentration camp of metal bars and forced feeds. Chickens are meant to run and jump scratch for beetles and worms and enjoy life in a woodland and in return share their free-range eggs just as my grandmother did with her chickens all those years ago when I was just a child.
50 years is a long time to see us go backwards not forwards, 50 years is a long time to see how self-obsessed people are and how we create a dystopian nightmare for our fellow living creatures. Where we all bathe in luxury and call it poverty. Where everyone has access to excess clothes, food and time and yet somehow claim to be poor in all these things because of our greed.
I see a promised land, this land has less domesticated animals, less industrial agriculture, more intensive propogation, a rich set of wildernesses which are ever growing not shrinking and super high tech towns and cities where most people live and which gives them all the freedom to be creative, imaginative and learn how to speak with the animals we share this earth with. In my promised land, children are treated with respect and taught valuable life lessons by their communities and all life is treated with respect. Rather than see ourselves at the top of the evolutionary tree we should see ourselves at the centre, the servant to all. In our service to life we will find our joy and we will begin to create amazing interplanetary craft sharing life with the rest of the universe using planet earth as a seed bank to help the universe flourish as it should. The universe is so vast and we can see so far these days that it is incumbent upon us to share the story of life (our DNA) where ever it is welcomed and to share our incredible creations with the universe.
We are Gods the very Gods we have been searching for we have created a world from our imagination and we have the imagination to find harmony with life and to stop killing, poisoning, abusing and mistreating our fellow living beings and our very wonderful home the place which renews our creativity every day.
I am sorry it has taken me 50 years to write this story, but it is the story of my life and I have been busy living it and only now beginning to realise how important it is that I help lead this transition. I many good stories, poems and ideas and the greatest news is that no matter how many times you get knocked down, you find a way to rise again. Wealth is not the avenue to success and that however humble your story is it is important. In fact, maybe the humblest stories are the most important, just like the little things which can make all the difference: be it the hobbits in the shire, little acts of kindness which keep us positive, or the inspiration of a single little bird starting the dawn chorus singing just for the joy of life, and the value of sharing his life with a mate and with his community.
I do hope you like my poems and stories. They have supported me for some years now and I hope that we can find a way to join together in this important task and deliver an Earthrise movement which will bring herald and deliver the changes we so desperately need.
The first men to see earthrise were the astronauts in 1968. It was the first occasion I can remember watching television as we bought a TV for that event. It is was a pivotal moment in my young life along with my first memories of the SEA and it has had an influence on my life ever since. As you read this I ask you to join with me in signing the attached Declaration of Inter-Dependence so we can make a new covenant with the earth and all life in it ready for the new century before us. These are our first steps and I hope you will work with me and my colleagues in seeing this new 2020 vision for the future. As a gift and an inspiration for our lives I would like to share the following poem with you following a life of observing various lives both human and animal.
Born to Cry
Our first breath a cry
Our first sign a tear
Our first step a stumble
& our first thoughts are frightened fear
And if we live true lives
Our last breath a sigh
Our last sign a star
Our last step is graceful
& our last thoughts enlightened clear
(Reflection piece 24 December 2018 and introduction to the declaration for 2020)