From time to time, I sit in my garden and ponder my good fortune. The air is clear enough to let me breathe without restriction, the sun’s rays do not cancerise my skin, the water is clean enough to drink. Plants grow, the birds sing and nest, the foxes and the smaller rodents go about their days trouble free.
But it doesn’t long for something to intrude on my quietude, possibly prompted by the recent Earth Day; recently it was a pandemic, now a European war, yet another political crisis that increases divides, a cost of living crisis that focuses us on the here and now.
When I first started this blog eight years ago, it was pretty frivolous, a bit of fiction, some trite humorous stories from my past, the odd review, the even odder attempts at cooking. But a year in, I wrote this. And seven years on it feels as distant and unreachable as ever. I make no (well few) apologises to re-share it, even if I’ve corrected the typos and improved the flow.
This planet of ours, all its many places, have felt man’s feet (man here encompassing all versions of humanity, for convenience). Nowhere hasn’t been colonised. The first homo sapiens put their mark, less deep than ours, no doubt, but the land came first and then we arrived, cutting, digging, cultivating and, often despoiling.
The diaspora from our original ancestors, forged in the crucible of East Africa, trod indifferently from the start. They did not have the accumulation of knowledge to do what we do today, but ancient man moved their own mountains.
And like the scamps in Oliver Twist, Nature ducked and dived and sought a way to survive in the world of indifferent men. She came again and again, clawing back lost ground only to be pushed away again. And again.
We, today’s guardians, stand on the shoulders of giants and yet we scour and scratch at Earth’s crust like a new scab. And we wonder at the wounds we cause, the suppurating sickness we see and ignore. As with our hospitals, overdosed on antibiotics and once more losing out to cunning and resilient microbes, we stick plasters on our planet. And ignore the deeper malaise.
We ban smoking in public places yet we condemn the earth to the most egregious passive smoking, chimneys belching cancer planet wide. We sneer at the litterbugs, condemning such ignorance yet we globally litter our oceans in ways that mock our noble intentions.
This earth is one place, not a set of disconnected pieces. It is linked. It is Gaia. If we continue to toss trash over our neighbour’s fence, smoke in her face and not treat her, everyone, everywhere with a consistent respect then my children, and my children’s children will never be able to experience the joys of discovery that I have enjoyed.
The planet is a destination for us all. We roamed far and wide, trod heavily and in ignorance. But we are ignorant no longer. Look up people. The horizon isn’t, as the ancients had it, the end of the world. Their maps were wrong; the water didn’t pour off the edge into some sort of nothingness. One horizon is but the gateway to the next horizon, all of them but stepping stones back to the start. Unless we realise that soon, the ancients’ maps will be proved prescient in another way and it will be the end of the world: the water might not pour off the edge but be assured – on our current path Here Be Dragons.