Saturday, December 04, 2010

A New Beginning

"Begin at the beginning and go on until you come to the end: then stop"
from Alice in Wonderland ~ Lewis Carroll

December has arrived, and the sun is shining through scattered clouds across the Southern skies as I pull on my travelling boots once again and head across the cornfields and pine forests toward the rugged coast of the Western frontier. I love the wild open plains that stretch as far as the eye can see and the wide endless sky above the rolling hills of farmland and pasture. From the Aegean to the Pacific, from Istanbul to San Francisco I have travelled across nearly every type of terrain and seen many fabulous wonders, both natural and built, and love the vibrancy of life I have encountered - partaking in my fair share of the luxuries this world has on offer. Yet, I am concerned for the prospects of the next generation in the face of a steady decline of places and spaces untouched by the ravages of over-development.

Nature’s contrasts fascinate me and human intervention creates conflict that we either strive to integrate with the environment or leave behind as scars on the land, a signifier of the shameful wounds we all carry as part of the communal present. But, free from sadness if not blame I welcome all the vestiges of life though they mark my soul, for what is a man if not a history of deeds, for better or worse.

“In the beginning was the deed” Faust ~ Goethe

As climate change ravages the globe through storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, fire and flood, our elected leaders are incapable of working together to find solutions to the crisis. Instead, they feast on the pageantry of convention in luxury that seeks only to maintain the delicate balance of power while the fragile earth shakes and trembles beneath our feet.

The procession of everyday life carries on; our children march to the drumbeat of tomorrow while we impose a past of complicit financial and environmental errors upon their present. The promise of youth is a bright hope for the future, and as all parents know, every child brings love to the world. Love is not divided when a new baby comes along: love multiplies.

Watching a group of youngsters parade their new instruments down the main street of a small town, the sunlight glinting off shining steel as they bang in rhythmic cadence, is a diversion from the problems of the world we exploit without sincere endeavour to resolve. But it is also a reminder of the steps that need to be taken to ensure the continuation of this cycle of life.

"Everything must have a beginning and that beginning must be linked to something that came before" ~ Mary Shelly in Frankenstein
If one loves their children – then it is time to take responsibility for the earth; we are obligated to ensure their future. I tire of bogus misanthropists saying, “marriage is only a piece of paper” and “I don’t want to bring children into this evil world” or “I’m not getting a driver’s licence because I don’t want to add to the pollution of the planet” – fools! They hide behind their fa├žade of morality while they sit quite happily in the passenger seat of life.

I’m not talking about those who aren’t ready to be parents, or for some reason beyond their control are unable to produce offspring, but rather those who use their pathetic lack of commitment as some righteous excuse to circumvent their participation in the cycle of existence. Content to let others do the driving they live smugly in their virtuous lies. These passengers in our world avoid responsibility for the collective future on this planet by cynically pretending some noble purpose. They would rather ride alongside in false contempt of the rest of us than accept the reality of their complicity. They contribute waste by their lack of effort. By not taking responsibility for the ills of society they still claim to be part of, they are no part of any worthwhile solution, those who have no stake in this world only take without giving.

By all means walk or ride a bicycle when possible- I certainly do, but remember that avoidance of responsibility for your contribution to the problem through assumed superiority is surely an offence of ignorance as much as those charged with finding the global solutions to these difficulties avoid dealing firmly with the corporations who suppress the new technologies that could deliver us from this evil dependency on draining natural resources.

“In the beginning was the foot” ~ Marvin Harris

Traipsing across the vast landscape that spreads before me from sea to sea, I want only for that sense of exhilaration that comes from the liberty to be me, and the friendship I find in the heart of another. It is those sincere connections we make that keep life extraordinarily beautiful and tragic – for in the eyes of others we find a reflection of our own search, the desire for love and joy at the discovery of new possibilities.

Love comes at a high price though, and we often compromise the freedom to be the people we are or want to be – recognising that allows us to keep going even when the wistful dreams of previous disillusion enter our thoughts. Anyone who hasn't experienced the suffering that comes with true love has never truly loved.

Nothing is better than hearing those three little words that mean so much, for they remind us we are capable not only of loving, but of being loved. Knowledge of self and purpose provide hope, then when we least expect it, faith is fulfilled and love returns.

“In the beginning was the Word” ~ Gospel of John

Faith is a rock in the desert being battered by the harsh wind; eroded by the sands of time it is worn and crumbling. It is a ship buffeted by the waves of chaos that threaten to sink the trust in our own abilities. Yet still it stands, as testament to the enduring will of those who believe in themselves and the power of excellence to live life according to the truth we hold. Freedom is a quality we must never surrender.

But responsibility for our actions is the anchor that secures the vessel, and we must recognise our place in the chain of events that conspire to release us from obligation and destroy the earth through selfish gain and accumulation. To have a child is to share in the future. We must stand firm against the temptation to allow the greed of others to take from our children their opportunities on this planet, and keep faith with each other through the storms of change.

"As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be" ~ Morning Prayer, Gloria

This beautiful world is more than the ground beneath our feet; it is the people, plants and animals that inhabit its continents and seas, all of us who share the wealth of the earth’s bounty. The social world is where deeds take place, and it is up to each of us to face the challenge of action in the realm of the public. It is no great effort to believe behind closed doors, we must acknowledge our principles and be ready to state our case even against the opposition of those whose interests are served by supporting the system of destruction and exploitation for excessive wealth.

Pollution and waste are severe problems in this world today – yet we carry on in apparent disregard for our behaviour. We are surely affecting the ecosystem that sustains life, yet the cynics would have us believe it is a phase of the planetary cycle and there is nothing we can do to stop it. We go about our lives with only a passing mention of the daily reminders that illustrate the constantly evolving devastation - we do not have anywhere else to go if we continue to defile this earth, it is our only home.

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.
That will be the beginning" ~ Louis L’Amour

The food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe are all in peril of our succumbing to our own selfish desires for taking more than we need. Still we expect more, the latest automobile, the handiest gadget and the circus of the pursuit of bigger and more expensive products that all consume resources. The irony of sitting on a leather couch watching a wide-screen television documentary on the dangers of environmental damage never ceases to amaze me.

Governments and multinational corporations would encourage us to purchase newer environmentally friendly cars – do these people not consider the source of the materials and energy that is used to make these items? No, it is simply another effort to maintain the system of production and consumption. The hypocrisy of those who would convince us of their good intentions is astounding.

"Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress,
working together is success"~ Henry Ford

We all play a part in the way things are – I don’t want to give up my simple comforts, but I don’t want to accept that my children and theirs will suffer the consequences of our generation burying our heads in the oily sand of devastating environmental damage. It is time to act, to say to those who have the power at their disposal, we want investment to go toward renewable, truly clean and healthy options and to stop squandering our children’s inheritance on the evil deeds of reckless misuse of limited and valuable resources.

As I wander this majestic land with its immense mountains and lush valleys, its shores teeming with life and prairies securing my daily bread with their abundant harvest of crop, the sun shines as a guiding light to the path before me, and I turn into the wind. I feel the raw power of the natural world and know there is a source for energy all around me – shining down on me and crashing on the shores along the beach. I give thanks that I have the opportunity to see so much of life, but it is a chance we must all carve out for ourselves lest we fall back on lazy excuses and end our days in regret for the moments of love and friendship we let slip past while searching for some ephemeral status that never brings the satisfaction of peace.

“Imagination is the beginning of creation" ~ George Bernard Shaw

Let us restore the world and heal ourselves by bringing about a natural adaptation to the inevitable cycle of change, both within us and throughout the environment we exist within. Let us clean up this ecological biosphere and allow it to grow into the beautiful and abundant garden of delights it can be.

Only then we can rest in the sunshine, friends by our side and love in our hearts, with the knowledge that we took the chance to encounter something significant beyond everyday survival. We can sacrifice the pointlessness of selfish egotistical desires to discover what is really important to life, and in so doing grow into fully cognizant humans, in control of our personal destiny while submitting to the natural order of the earth. It is up to each us, for the sake of all children – time is short, and life waits for no one. I am stepping out – join me on this journey and we can walk together into a new day.

“In my beginning is my end” ~ T.S. Eliot


All the photos except 'razzle' were taken this week - it and 'drummers' were altered, the snail pic was enhanced, the other images are untouched. With the world currently experiencing a backlash over the economic crisis in Europe, the Climate Control Conference in Cancun has even greater significance - I felt it deserved a mention. It's about 3 in the morning here, so probably rambling in more ways than one. I promise to have a few more party hearty back to the fun posts soon. Thanks for reading.

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