Our protestant capitalist heritage maintains that hard work is our salvation, the modern version encapsulated best I think in the words of Daft Punk: “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”. And it’s an infectious philosophy. I recall a Rwandan Minister once telling me, after a discussion about economic transformation, that the government should aim to do even better than leapfrogging – presumably exercising some hitherto impossible acrobatic feat.
And so it must be that climate change, the greatest challenge of our time – of any time – demands a collective superhuman effort. And it’s true that there is a lot to do. But perhaps it’s time to think not only of speed, but place: where we stand in relation to the natural world. For example, to meet the demand for minerals and metals needed for many renewable technologies like wine turbines, there are plans for the first mines on the deep sea floor: a prospect potentially disastrous for untouched habitats and species that have much to tell us about life on earth. It’s a clear rational choice to some; and madness to others.
For a while – although not so long relative to our species’ existence – humans have made themselves larger than Nature, as aspiring masters of the universe standing upon a dead rock. The words ‘sacred’ and ‘sacrifice’ have the same root and it offers a clue. Sacrifice is anathema in a secular world. Yet as soon as we feel the earth as sacred – as preceding us, nourishing us, holding us – could the fear of letting go recede into abundance a little?
Now is a time where people rage and weep and fight for the planet. But perhaps the next act of resistance is to come back to the earth as a place where we belong, as a place of enchantment and joy. Where anxious hope prods us on, a movement founded on love may be more gracious and fleet of foot.
Can you follow your pleasure to the revolution? Perhaps we can all start close in, in the small intimacies. Rest and feel yourself as a tiny body, held effortlessly on this big body of earth. Stand barefoot, moulding and moulded by the ground beneath. Smell the soil as you plant a seed. Attend to the tiny miracles in the mundane.