Food For Thought: Gaia

The perception of existence as a gift given moment by moment by an unseen power generates in us a sense of awe and wonder, of receptivity and thanksgiving.

– Luke Timothy Johnson, The Creed

First ‘Food For Thought’ post won’t seem all that controversial an idea. That’s because people aren’t really taking about it. And when it is talked about nothing is done about it. Can’t really be bothered. But we should be, because this issue affects us all, and not just humans either.

We are, without a doubt, damaging the earth. I recently watched a presentation from Al Gore (USA) on climate change, on global warming, on what is happening and how we could avoid it.

The simple fact is that we need to do something. We all know what’s happening. What a lot of people don’t know, is that in the 1970s we were completely fine. No issues. In forty years we’ve hit a horrible level of damage. Cars were invented in 1672 (by Ferdinand Verbiest), computers in 1840 (with Charles Babbage), planes in 1903. We’ve been going for a while; technology and travel are great. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t use them. We managed perfectly well until the 1970s!

But we’ve become lazy. We drive to the shops just down the road. What happened to community? So many people no longer know their neighbours. A neighbour couldn’t buy a child running by an ice-cream without them being damned as having perverted ulterior motives. We’ve become so anti-communicative that many of us literally dread company on buses and trains, so travel alone in cars for miles. Individuals drive to work on sunny days while their bikes stand rusty in the shed, and on rainy days they drive to work too, whilst the co-workers down the road drive in their own car too, not sharing a lift. Yet these people also fear their own company, unable to sit still in quiet, with the constant background noise of TV or radio.

James Lovelock came up with the Gaia hypothesis. It proposes that all beings on earth (whether human, plant or animal) are closely integrated to form a single and self-regulating system, maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. In simpler terms: the earth is alive. All that exists on earth is connected with one another, and with the earth… a bit like in the film Avatar. Earth, Gaia, works to sustaining life. To sustaining energy, beauty. If you don’t think this hypothesis is factual and you think the evolutionary theory of ‘survival of the fittest’ is more accurate then fine, but hear the metaphor of Lovelock’s message.

We must be careful not to hurt the beautiful earth God gifted us with. The earth was Paradise until we messed it up, deciding that we knew more than our Creator, hiding ourselves with the skin of animals and wandering the world in fear as our children killed one another.

We can get back to that original Paradise, that Eden where there was peace. And we don’t have become cavemen to do so. We simply need to remember the 1970s, spending a little less time with our gadgets, and a little more time with one another.

Don’t bother? Well it won’t affect you much, but it will affect your children, your grandchildren. And the most dangerous spot for the future is somewhere you might not expect – the first places in chaos if we continue as we are will be the United Kingdom, France, Greenland and Canada.

What can you do? Your bit. Cycle every once in a while. Enjoy a spring walk instead of watching that film again. Spend time with friends and family instead of watching supposed “reality” TV. We’ve just had the elections, encourage your representative to promote green behaviour. Take a flask to work instead of throwing out another cup from the canteen.

Don’t like change? Get a grip.

Food For Thought…

To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold – brothers who know now they are truly brothers.

– Archibald MacLeish, American poet, ‘Riders on earth together, Brothers in eternal cold,’ front page of the New York Times, Christmas Day, 25 December 1968

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