"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Without nature a part of our soul dies

"Little boxes on the hillside," the song goes. "Little boxes made of Ticky Tacky… and they all look just the same…"

Malvina Reynolds wrote this song, made popular in my youth by Pete Seeger, among others, in protest against the new tract housing and suburbia explosion she saw on a drive out from San Francisco in the early 1960s. I was living on a farm, milking cows and growing vegetables, and this song was very meaningful to me. I couldn't bear the thought of living in any kind of suburbia, and losing my space, the trees and woodland, the garden, the ponds, the cows and all the freedom of the open countryside.

So all this sprang to my mind last night whilst watching an oh so sad documentary (The Fastest Changing Place on Earth) about the plight of farmers in China being evicted from their land to make way for factories and high rise apartment blocks and the development of mega cities; all in the interest of industrialisation and economic growth.

150 million people apparently have left their families to go to the cities to find work. With the increased wages they can then earn the families supposedly have a better standard of living and the youngsters then hanker for the latest Nikes, computer gizmos, etc. But at what cost to family cohesion and real happiness? And there were evidently plenty of unhappy people, having their world ripped apart. Is the world mad? Can Skype calls ever truly replace the family unit all being together in one place? Can young mothers really want to say goodbye to their young children for months or years in exchange for tedious rush hour traffic in high- rise cities with pollution and crowds, materialism and consumerism? What is worse is that many of the evicted farmers have still not been provided with the high quality apartments and the schooling for their children that were promised as part of the deal. Even more are resisting eviction. Such farmers are labelled as "backward" because they don't give up, will not sacrifice "self interest" for the good of the nation. Many are scared that if they make too much noise their children will suffer. They can only complain anyway to the Party Secretary and he also is scared of losing his job if he doesn't toe the party line. These are our brothers and sisters. These are all humans like you and me.

And humans need nature, and contact with the soil. This is where our roots are happiest, where our souls are nurtured. The irony is that here in the West we tolerate the city noise and crowds and busyness all week in the interests of making more money and then dash out of the cities like lemmings on Friday night to go to the country, away from it all, away from the mess we have made of our working lives, back to our roots.

Without contact with nature a part of our soul dies.

Strangely enough, just a few hours earlier yesterday, I had listened to The Food Programme on Radio 4. There I heard from Michael Pollan and Sheila Dillon how China is losing the wisdom and health of its food traditions as the fast food chains arrive, with an accompanying increase in the diseases of the Western world; obesity and the resulting cancers, diabetes, heart disease etc. But Michael gave us a glimmer of hope - and here is the huge irony. As farmers resist eviction and their land gets taken over for building, urban people from big cities in China are taking suburban plots of land with the help of the CSA, Community-Supported Agriculture, and growing their own food again!!

Meanwhile, much of China's wonderfully productive and fertile agricultural land becomes the victim of building and development, and possibly polluted beyond redemption.

Does China really want to embrace all our materialistic and consumerist values to the full? These values don't seem to be serving us too well at the moment!

No comments:

It's Time you knew - by Transition Rachel at YouTube

Many reasons to love La Gomera



with vapor trails


Total Pageviews