Monday, August 23, 2010

When Will They Ever Learn?

You would think, wouldn't you, that after the huge environmental disaster that happened in the Gulf of Mexico, there would be a serious re-think about the obvious dangers of deepwater drilling? But no, the search for those last few drops of oil continues unabated. Just so that humans can continue to follow unsustainable lifestyles.

I have been an environmental activist for more than 40 years now. And although most of my energy these days goes into writing about consciousness and all things 'green' rather than getting out there and taking direct action myself, I think it is very important to support those courageous folks, like the ones aboard the Rainbow Warrior, who continue to take risks on behalf of our planet's health and wellbeing.

That's why today's post is a Greenpeace message. I hope you will take action accordingly.


Stop deepwater drilling for oil in the Arctic from Greenpeace UK on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Close Quarters

My blog tour is over and I am home. It was intended to last another week or two, but I decided it was time to stop. Somehow, it felt finished.

This time of year, in my corner of rural England, the vegetation along the lanes has reached its peak. The succession of white is nearing its end. First came the frothy heads of sheep’s parsley, then the sturdier, cow parsnips, then—the white deepening into cream—came the strange, wonderfully-scented meadowsweet. Now even that is past its fullness, dying back, going to seed.

I never see this roadside profusion without remembering Vic.

Vic lived in the village where I spent the latter half of my childhood. He could neither read nor write but he could play, accurately and flawlessly on his piano accordion, any tune you cared to suggest. He carried in his pocket a scrap of paper with his name printed on it in large, block capitals. If ever he needed to sign something he would unfold the piece of paper and carefully, laboriously, copy out the letters.

Vic did odd jobs for our family, and in breaks we would sit and chat and he would tell his tales of local lore and the ways of wildlife.

He also worked for the local council, trimming the roadside vegetation with a hand-held sickle. So he was always outside and his skin was tanned like a leather shoe. I can see him now, his broad, brown face split by a wide smile as I passed him on my bicycle. I can see him with that sickle, deftly trimming back the stems that had begun to hang over into the lane. He always seemed content in the work of his hands and the slow pace of his days.

Trimming back vegetation is a job best done at close quarters, the way he did it. But any day now, with the nesting season pretty well over, a large, noisy, smelly machine will rumble down our lane, its blades held close against the hedge, ripping indiscriminately into everything it passes and leaving ugly gashes in the bark of trees.

Our machines make short work of many tasks. But for everything they give us, they take away more. I know it’s no good trying to return to a life long past, but I’m convinced that we can find slower, more careful, safer, greener alternatives to many of the things we do that are so thoughtlessly—and rapidly—destroying beauty, diversity and ecosystems. We need to build an entirely new infrastructure, based this time on renewable energy, on local economies, on bioregional identities, on that wonderful maxim of ‘thinking globally/acting locally.’ And in doing so, combine the best of the new technology, such as the Internet, with the best of the old, re-skilling ourselves in some of the tasks that people have forgotten to do, such as darning socks and baking bread … and wielding a sickle.

This is why, in Part III of the new book, GreenSpirit: Path to a New Consciousness, I have drawn together experts from some of the major institutions of our culture—medicine, law, economics, education and so on—to talk about the many ways in which this new thinking can be translated into practice.

The old world—Vic’s world—is gone. The new one is being created, brick by brick, person by person, moment by moment. For where consciousness leads, matter will follow. Keep the faith.

PS: If you haven't bought your copy of the new book yet, and you are in the UK, click here to get it from GreenSpirit Books for £10.75. If you are in the USA, here is the link to the Amazon page. And in Australia, it's in stock now at Angus & Robertson. If anyone is having difficulty obtaining a copy, just contact me and let me know.