We’ll be remembered more for what we destroy than what we create
8th June 2020
Some of the most striking images over the past few weeks and reported in the Wychwood Covid 19 newspapers, have been of photographs showing the reduction of pollution over many cities following lockdown. I was also delighted to see pictures of the clean canals of Venice now spawning life and of crystal clear waters of the normally traffic-busy Solent waterway, along the south coast of England.
Also during lockdown many people have asked if the birds are singing more loudly, overlooking the fact that in our usually noise-polluted world we simply don’t hear them as much. It is less a case of the birds singing more loudly and more the fact that for once we can actually hear them and we are paying attention.
Enforced inaction has in many ways been good news for the environment and maybe there are lessons to be learned as we look ahead to the future.
The quotation this week comes from a novel called Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk. At one point in the novel the three main characters are at the top of the Space Needle in Seattle. They decide to ‘save the world with some advice from the future’ and they write their advice on a series of postcards and then send them down over the city.
I wonder what we would choose to write on a postcard to save our world, with particular reference to the environment. Given that we have had a recent taste of how we could reap the benefits very quickly of cleaner waters and less polluted air, perhaps a return to ‘normal’ and what ‘normal’ has been doing to our environment should not be the future.
Let us hope that in the future, it will not be the case that ’We’ll be remembered more for what we destroy than what we create’. Maybe the knowledge and awareness gained through lockdown will inspire us to act differently and to value the natural environment in which we live and upon which we depend, more fully.
Instead of valuing the natural world primarily as a resource for human consumption and utility it will be valued in itself. And we will understand that our duty is to be stewards of our wonderful world, caretakers for the generations to come.
I finish with two quotations. The first is from the Bible in the book of Genesis chapter 2 verse 15:
“And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”
It is made clear that humans have a responsibility of care towards the world, our garden.
And from Buddhism, the Dalai Lama:
Taking care of our planet, environment, is something like taking care of our own home. This blue planet is our only home.
And we are to take care of our world, our home.