Monday, 31 December 2018

Wishing you Love (and Grief) in 2019

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

- Wendell Berry

Perhaps you will think it a cruel thing to say - I wish you, with all my heart, a 2019 that begins with love and with grief. Not just any old grief, I do not wish bad or sad things to happen to you, but I do most sincerely want you to understand the bad and sad things that are already happening to all of us. That will get worse and worse if we don't act now.

I hope you will forgive me. There is no malice whatsoever in this wishing - it comes from love and only love. I wish most of all that you fall in love with our beautiful planet, with your world, our world. I wish for you to love it passionately, with all of your heart. All of it, or just your own little patch - either will do. 

Then my wish for you, dear friend, without the slightest hint of bitch or witch, is that you grieve. I wish that your heart will feel like it's breaking with the pain of our broken world - because if you feel like that, it's because you understand what we have done; you know about the sixth mass extinction, about global heating, know about the storm and starvation scenario that our children have to look forwards to. Know that those who are children now are going to be living in a world which will be effectively habitable for humans, or not,
depending upon our choices right now. 

If you feel grief, then perhaps you will know that water is sacred. That water is life. That if we carry on polluting the water in the way we are currently then our descendants will inherit a planet in which there will be wars over water and in which even we, the rich ones, the ones who currently have everything, are quite likely to be starving, wanting for even the basics. 

When your grief spills over, and tears come, then my wish for you is that anger follows. Anger at what we have done, what we have allowed to be done in our name. 

And that out of anger, comes action.

My dearest wish for you, for me, for all of us, is that we start ACTING, right now. We know what needs to be done. We know that much of our current life style is totally unsustainable, and it's very clear that our Governments are not going to do anything like enough. So it has to be us. We have to be the ones to choose what our future looks like. Each one of us has power, especially as a 'consumer' to make a difference. If we keep buying chickens who have been raised in sheds where they see no daylight, have hardly enough room to turn around, are fed growth hormones and penicillin routinely, are smushed into a machine to be plucked while they are still alive and are then placed on a plastic tray and wrapped in more plastic - then that is what will be in the shops. If we keep buying washing powder, or water, or sugary drinks, or even yoghurt in plastic bottles and tubs - then we will live in a world where the seas are dead and the beaches are covered in plastic.

If we keep buying more and more and more and throwing the 'old' one 'away' then more and more and more of our land and sky will be full of these things, either buried exactly as they are or burned and released into the atmosphere or washed into the sea. There is no 'away'. There is only a place you cannot see from where you are standing.  Someone else's door step.

If we do not chose to reduce, re-use, re-cycle, re-purpose, re-invent, redress - who will chose it for us?

Every single one of us needs to give our very serious consideration to -
not getting on an aeroplane,
not buying anything sold in the kind of plastic that doesn't stretch when you push it with your finger - this is the stuff that's easy to recycle,
not taking the car if there's any alternative (walk, bike, bus, train or even - don't go!),
not leaving the lights on, changing to a sustainable energy supplier,
not turning a blind eye when our office/shop leaves the lights on,
not buying another one, a newer one, a better one of something that works just fine, buy only what we really need, and then consider buying second-hand/used/vintage/antique,
or from a local artisan maker who's creations are ethical and sustainable.
Not washing our clothes unless they are actually dirty or smelly and then washing them on the shortest, coolest cycle that will get them clean.
Not using chemicals - on our bodies, in our homes, on the food we buy, 
Not endlessly updating our wardrobe.

 If what stops you from buying organic food is the cost then I most respectfully suggest that you need to ask yourself what you mean by 'cost'.  Is £1 more or less today worth trading your future for?

Is the palm oil in your convenience food worth the destruction of thousands of lives half a world away?

Is the beef in your burger (especially if you are in America) worth the loss of the Rainforest? Is it worth the loss of the lungs of the world? Is it worth the carbon that won't be sequestered by those trees, now that they are gone? The spiralling temperatures, the storms, the floods, the famines...

Do these questions not fill you with rage and grief? If they do not, you have not been paying attention. Please go and find out why they should - on our children's lives, I beg you.

My prayer for 2019 is that we pay attention, remember the next generations, change the ways we are behaving.

Most of all, I wish you love.

May 2019 be full of it,
for all of us.
And all our relations. 

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