If you take a cursory glance, it isn’t anyone in western politics..that is for sure. We seem to have entered the “fight for the next election result” phase of humanity. Of course this wreaks of short sighted and deeply flawed logic.
Teach them while they’re young
One of my greatest childhood experiences was being in the Cubs. The early years of scouts was good too…but then it became daggy, uncool and regimented…uniforms? I had school for that….(ahh…the teen years….)
Attending cubs, at the ripe old age of seven, we learned Bushcraft. Merit badges awarded once we demonstrated skills including:
- constructing a bush shelter that you could sleep in overnight
- prepare and cook at least two meals on a camp
- what to do if you lose your direction when on a bushwalk
- Show how to build a safe fireplace in the bush.
How many adults do you know that could competently complete that “challenge”? We learnt how to live in and with the natural environment. Fast forward 40 years (or so) , I’ve moved from the country and now live in the biggest city in Australia. For the most, I find it soulless and unfriendly. There is little sense of community and an overemphasis on consumerism on steroids. As Thomas Berry observed in “The Great Work”:
” Summer and winter are the same inside the mall. Ours is a world of highways, parking lots, shopping centers.
We read books written with a strangely contrived human alphabet. We no longer read the Book of Nature.”
Screen time V Scene Time
I grew up in a cul-de-sac shared with 10 other families. We knew everyone by name and every afternoon involved a form of “force ’em backs “, billy carts dragged by bikes, scooters or some other harmless mischief. The only rule: “Be back home before the street lights come on.”
TV was something that occupied 1/2 hour after you walked home from school. Looney Tunes was the only choice and during the early hours of Saturday Morning, we could marvel at the adventures of the Thunderbirds. Sunday Evenings, Countdown was on , just before Disneyland.
It was a simple, fulfilling up bringing. I now wonder whether cubs and weekend sports is a very cost effective, learning development baby sitter? However, I now believe it was absolutely the best upbringing I could have had. Being regularly immersed in nature, I could build stuff and was learning respect, discipline and empathy.
The evolving loss of awareness
In 2005, six years after I moved from the country, I had secured a fairly prestigious role. I was the GM of one of the largest Business chambers of commerce in Australia. It was a far cry from the seventeen year old country trade apprentice cutting, folding and installing kilometres of air -conditioning duct-work.
Life was fast. People were…prickly. Here, trust is demanded and not earned. Respect seemed to align with a job title, and not so much merit. How did these people earn their merit badges?
Following a pretty animated meeting with one such self badged “meritorious” executive, I walked back to my Harbourside office. I stopped and looked at the trees, the birds, the bridge and thought: “I walk past this every day and rarely stop to breath in the beauty of it all”.
The city, the job, the fast paced environment, it seemed was efficiently taking the country from the boy. That job allowed us to buy our first property. I keenly moved south to the fringes of the third oldest national park in the world.
Royal National Park as a backyard
We chose a building block right in the middle in a little town – right in the middle of the park. I loved it, my city born and bred wife loathed it. Consequently, as with all effective relationships, a compromise had to be reached and an exit strategy formulated to “move back into civilisation”.
Interestingly, the small town was suffering from an identity crisis. It was trying to be urban chic, with cafe’s serving $4.00 coffee’s springing up as it grew to meet the ever expanding girth of Sydney. Strangely, the people were…prickly. The man who had spent 37 years in country NSW and his wife, were considered “city folk”. Ironically, the townsfolk were extremely parochial and we found them, mostly, unfriendly.
The park is still just 15 minutes drive away. It frames the view from our rear balcony. However, our compromise is that we have a bus at our door and cafes’, restaurants, trains and hospitals all within a 5 minute drive…
Learning from our First Nations People
The “newer” home is just a little like living in the country. We even know our neighbours…by name!
Although…it’s not. Once again, I’ll borrow from Thomas Berry.
We might have learned from our Indigenous peoples how to establish a viable relationship with the bush and with it’s inhabitants. It is evident that they have understood the rivers and mountains in their intimate qualities. They’ve seen this continent as a land to be revered and dwelt on with a light and gracious presence. Instead it was, to the colonists a land to be exploited. – (Amended from P41 – The Great Work)
It is 2020. Unfortunately, our elected leaders are stuck in a mid 90’s battle to see who can gaze at their navel the longest. Alarmingly, just this past January and for the first time in my life; I had to lock myself within my house and seal the gaps under the doors to be able to breathe. My eyes watered and throat itched.
Our living environment is suffering and there is enough scientific evidence that we have passed the tipping point for human survival. Make no mistake, the planet WILL survive. It will see off this Human “Pestilence” and balance her flaws.
SHE will get on with living; providing a future for all that remains. Her methods will be ruthless, efficient and our natural environment will flourish without us.