What’s Going On?

What's Going On? (More to Life magazine 2011)

Decades ago when Marvin Gaye asked this very question in song, when Bob Marley sang of people power in his hit ‘Exodus’ and when Don Mclean put into music the incredibly poignant lyrics for ‘Tapestry’, did they all know something our leaders today have missed, or all of us are choosing to ignore? 

Having grown up in the southern hemisphere, I have always had a healthy respect for the forces of Mother Nature. There is a fine line between the use and the abuse of her resources. Being surrounded by the decedents of some of the oldest peoples of the Pacific was intriguing to me as a European youngster, learning of their myths and legends in the school ‘Marae’. But somehow it all seemed too far in the past, not so relevant in an age that was bowing to the Gods of consumerism, commercialism and scientific doctrine preaching the virtues of a nuclear age. How different my perspective is today as I keep in touch with friends affected by the recent quake in New Zealand and stare, wide-eyed at the mighty waters and exploding power-plants in Japan. Suddenly the teachings of the Maori and Aboriginal elders; their love for, and understanding of, the land and the elements conveyed through song, storytelling and ceremony seem to speak so poignantly of the ‘here and now’.

The Universe in which our planet exists and the planet itself, provide us with all we need, but these resources are finite. Our fresh water, food and shelter can only be sustained if (and that’s a big ‘if’) we take from Nature what can be replaced. We are but one form of life on Earth, not ‘the’ form of life and we must learn to use our gift as custodians of this ‘Eden’ to help this living entity thrive, not plunder, rape and pillage at random. There are accounts of ancient civilisations, long before us, like the Atlanteans and the peoples of ‘Mu’ whose scientific, medical and technological advances far surpassed anything we know now. Yet they perished, imploding, despite their vast intellect and knowledge. Perhaps their desires to control ‘All’ is the lesson with confronts us now. We are not in a position to control the very elements that give us life. We cannot expect to extract volatile matter from deep within the ground and ‘pretend’ nothing will change. Nor can we build industries upon the surface of the land that sit like ticking time bombs, from whose destruction all life will struggle to recover. Are we really prepared to believe that we are all so arrogant or so stupid to think that we can master over the forces of creation? Have we learnt nothing from our previous attempts to dictate, and manipulate the who what and why we are…

Is the real problem the fact that we are looking to feed our greed rather than our need? If there is one organism that is ‘plaguing’ Earth, that poses the greatest threat to all life, it is us. Too many human beings have forgotten the joy of being alive and replaced it with the fear of their own mortality and fragility. I believe that we all have the creative life force (or God) within us, but we are not the only living entities in creation – we are just a part of ‘God’. And this is what our ancestors not only understood, but felt it was enough to sustain them and they lived with enough humility on this Earth to enrich it. We are not a ‘bad’ people; we are inventive, generous, compassionate, inquisitive, loving and we have free will. And it is the free will that gives us the power to make choices. We can choose to alter our needs, moderate our wants, see past the superficial differences and re-claim our place on this Earth as perpetuators of life, not destroyers.

Perhaps what is going on right now has always done so. But with more than six billion of us it is more obvious than ever that in order for any of us to have a future we must once again embrace a simpler life where having our basic needs met will give us the freedom to ‘be’ happier rather than chase the false God that fools us into thinking that our individual happiness can only come at a cost to others. When George Orwell wrote ‘Animal Farm’ as a commentary on communism, who would have thought it would be so apt a reflection on humanity as a whole. All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others, could so easily be translated to all life is equal, but some life is more equal… In order to live we must not only respect the planet (by preserving and managing the resources successfully) but we must also acknowledge the differences between our ideas, cultures, and aspirations.

We need to remember that the ultimate decision as to which life continues or flourishes on Earth may one day be taken out of our hands. Natural selection, once our saving grace, may now not be if we choose to keep pushing ourselves closer and closer to the cliff’s edge. By realising that the way in which we experience our lives on Earth can be made more pleasurable, content and joyful to a greater extent by our own actions and trusting to ‘let go’ of the things we cannot control- perhaps then we will reflect back on this time as a ‘life-line’ rather than the beginning of our end. The choices to live a simpler life, to re-distribute wealth and resources may not come easy. The realisation that we are all part of a living planet over which no ‘particular’ God resides, will not sit well with all. The belief that we should tamper with the laws of birth and death, just because we can, and without the consideration of the individuals involved, may make us uncomfortable. But the facts are now increasingly lining up before us. We see, hear and feel them. Humanity cannot continue to enforce global domination without serious repercussions. The way in which the minority desire to live means that the vast majority will have no choice but to increase in number as they struggle to survive and we will all tip off the see-saw. I, for one, am not ready to leave the playground just yet and neither should we enforce that on the younger generations to come. By treading lightly on this Earth we can all continue to enjoy the journey we have been gifted in an environment we should protect.

(c) Kate Osborne, Solarus Ltd.

First published in More to Life magazine 2011

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