“We are at a unique stage in our history. Never before have we had such an awareness of what we are doing to the planet, and never before have we had the power to do something about it. Surely we have a responsibility to care for our blue planet. The future of humanity, and indeed all life on Earth, now depends on us.”
Neil Oliver, with his gentle Scottish accent, has done some good programmes for BBC4, but none better than ‘Scotland and the Klan’, repeated last night. He follows the links between Scottish settlers in the Deep South of the USA and first slavery then the aftermath of the American Civil War – endemic racial prejudice and periodic resurgence of extreme groups, notably the Ku Klux Klan.Read More »
Tolerance is one of the greatest of virtues. For most of my lifetime since WW2, the UK has largely been a tolerant society, which is I believe one of the reasons so many people like to live here. We have looked askance at racial and political intolerance in the US, at intolerance of immigrants in France, and so on.
But recently things seem to have changed, along with the rise of first UKIP and then the divisive Brexit referendum, with thinly disguised acceptance of intolerant attitudes to immigrants. The tabloid media and even the Telegraph appear to be encouraging these sort of attitudes, particularly related to Brexit, notably with the recent disgraceful headlines attacking judges for doing their job, and even casting aspersions at their sexuality – and some politicians appear to condone this.
The example shown by the popularity of Donald Trump, almost intolerance personified, in the US, is not encouraging. Also, the Internet and social media appear to have provided an environment where normal social sanctions on intolerant behaviour are not easily applied.
Tolerance encourages tolerance and the highest part of ourselves; it provides the ground for communication with the other. Intolerance breeds intolerance and pulls us into the swamp of the lower part of ourselves; it closes us off from the other.
Society condones intolerance at its peril.
The language we use shows what we care about. When we talk about the natural world, notably in the media, there is that psychological distancing by using the term ‘the environment’, as if it were something out there to be exploited and controlled. People who care about the natural world and point to facets of the natural world that are being degraded, polluted, driven to extinction and so on are disparagingly referred to as ‘environmentalists’, as if they were somehow inexplicable activists for some impossible ideal state.
It is only the logical left brain that can act in this way. When right brain is engaged we cannot but help be in connection and empathy with the natural world, so that it really matters, just as much as our human artifacts, jobs, economies and so on.
The Paris climate accord was a left brain agreement which concluded that something must be done to stop the threat posed by global warming to this great left brain civilisation.
Thus, the species extinctions, increasing denatured environments, desertification and pollution are only treated seriously when perceived to be a threat to this left brain world. Otherwise, species and ecological communities can go hang, just like the dodo. Only the right brain grieves.
The need is clear. We are a part of nature, we are nature. We know that when we engage full faculties. There is no separate ‘environment’ – we are the natural world, we are it and slowly, in our technological trance, we are setting about trashing ourselves and our future.
It’s time to wake.
To quote Christopher Fry from a different context:
But will you wake for pity’s sake!
Featured image including dodo by Sir Thomas Herbert (d. 1682), courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
The sound of axes and knives being sharpened – the fuss about what Ken Livingstone said becoming a media storm about antisemitism in the Labour Party. The Labour leadership accused of not reacting quickly enough.
There we were enjoying the spectacle of the Conservative Party in civil war over Europe, and Labour’s candidate Sadiq Khan was favourite to become London mayor, which might just boost Jeremy Corbyn’s standing as Labour leader. Then the fuss.
Could it be a coincidence that the Tories needed a diversion from their European divisions, and ‘New Labour’ and the Establishment really wanted to discredit Corbyn, and the mayoral elections were nearly upon us?
Who said anything about dead cats being thrown on the table?
Incidentally, according to Wikipedia, “the Haavara Agreement was an agreement between Nazi Germany and Zionist German Jews signed on 25 August 1933… designed to enable Jews fleeing anti-Semitic persecution under the new Hitler regime to transfer some portion of their assets to… British Mandatory Palestine.” Now didn’t Ken say something like that? Not very diplomatic, but Ken is Ken.
Featured image of Mummyfied cat (Senckenberg Naturmuseum, Frankfurt, Germany),
courtesy of Hannes Grobe and Wikimedia Commons