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Time To Wake Up!

Interesting that it takes a young girl from Sweden to call us to a form of accountability regarding our covenant with the Earth. Feisty, angry, and articulated she stands on the world stage telling us how we have betrayed the youth, how we have left them no future. We have destroyed the planet. It is no longer a call to action, it is a verdict, the damage is done. According to a professor at Wits University, we have ten years left before the planet will no longer be inhabitable. We will not be able to replace what we have destroyed – especially bees, butter ies and other insects. In spite of these absolute facts, we seem to go from complete denialism to total paralysis. We watch Greta sail from Sweden to America as if we are watching a fascinating real-time movie, we follow her every move, applauding her bravery. We are red up by her speech, waiting for her take on Trump and the United Nations. And when the news is over, we carry on as usual. Even more disturbing is how some men take exception to be called out by a young girl…

The Wits professor aptly says “There is not a household in South Africa that does not have a can of Doom”. Why do we not see the urgency of the situation? What has happened that we can be so callous, so apathetic? I am working on a PhD, and by the time I have finished this, there will be eight years for me to enjoy the fruits of my labour. I consider myself to be a thinking, spiritual, evolved, sensible individual who deeply cares about and for the Earth. Yet, I will not think twice about spraying Doom. I recycle, only because someone else is doing the hard work. I do not use environmentally friendly products. I drive a diesel car. I fly on intercontinental flights at least once a year, if not more. I try to use less water than before the crisis, using shower water to flush the toilet, mainly because I was forced to do it. I still have many single-use plastic items in my house. Basically, all things considered, I am one of those people who do not give a shit if I have to be totally honest with myself. How do we call ourselves accountable? What will it take for us to individually and collectively become the responsible people that we so easily pretend to be? The smokers amongst us, knowing full well the harms of cigarette smoke, carry on with their habit. Knowing how our skins absorb harmful chemicals, do we look at the products that we use to wash our hair, brush our teeth, or lather our skin? Knowing the impact of an unhealthy diet on our brain health, and the impact of not exercising, do we change our ways? Nope, we don’t. Is this a result of nihilism, a kind of fatalistic, materialistic, capitalistic stubbornness in which we simply refuse to become more Mindful? What the &$%#$@^%$ is wrong with us? I don’t know. I honestly do not know. Well, we have ten years left. Is it possible that for some people this is actually good news? I do not have to worry about getting old, about having enough money, about becoming frail and in need of care. I will stand on the deck singing while the Titanic is sinking. Somehow, I do not think this is such an absurd assumption. Our inability to plan for the future, to contemplate our own mortality is now no longer an issue. We don’t have to think about it, we will not be here…

If however, the Prof at Wits is right, the next ten years will not be a joy ride. The end will not simply be an apocalyptic ash, a meteorite wiping the earth in one swoop. If there are fewer and fewer insects, food production will become more and more problematic. We will have to rely more and more on genetically modified and artificial nutrition, food will become more and more expensive, and there will be more and more poverty, and famine. Our resources will become less and less as the temperature of the earth rises. (I am by no means an expert on climate change, but the little snippets that I have read is enough to scare the living daylights out of me…). People will kill each other for basic resources like water. Yet, I see no plans in South Africa to address any of these environmental or climate issues. We plod along happily mining for coal. This state of affairs is beyond comprehension, yet we all carry on, regardless.

What is the point of all this? Is there an answer, a magic wand, a way out? I think somehow not. We are here, we have created this mess, and we are going to have to see it through. At least we all know now that we have ten years. What are your plans? What would a ten-year plan look like, a plan to at least try and make an effort to extend life on Earth, to make it more habitable? I think it starts with looking inward, not outward. To see one’s place on this earth as a global citizen, to understand that as an individual I have an impact. But I can only comprehend my impact if I understand my Self, that I am part of the bigger picture, that I am Connected, and that I am here for a reason. I am the manifestation of that which breathes this Life into Being. I am Divine Consciousness. I am inextricably bound, connected, part of this Universe, and with that Knowing I am response-able. I AM able to respond, not just react. If I can come to this point of realisation, I will take my Being here as a Divine calling. It is my duty to repair this world. Through my Mind, through my Kindness, through my Empathy, through my Understanding. (Some of you might wonder, even be irritated, by my use of capital letters. I do this on purpose to illustrate that which is beyond the concrete, every day, touchable so-called ‘reality’.

Whatever it is you want to call it, I assume that we agree by now that there is more to us than just this physical body. If you do not agree with this, read no further….). So back to what is the point of all this? I think that we have done a universal loop, a 360-degree journey to come to our Source. We have messed up, destroyed, annihilated. We have come to the end of times (I think this is mentioned in the Bible as well….). Where does it leave us though? I think it is a call to return to our true Humanity. To grow down ( we have tried growing up, see where that got us…), to let our roots grow deeper and deeper into the Earth, to find our energy Source in our Connectedness to the Earth, our roots.

In my years of working with Elders, I have become so aware of how we have tried everything in our power to “protect” ourselves against nature – umbrellas, raincoats, sunscreen. When last did you get soaked in a hefty downpour of rain? When last did you feel the mud peel through your toes? When last did you dive into the icy waters of a Cape Town beach, smelled the earth, felt the soil against your skin as you dig into it with your bare hands? Walking in Italy on a summer’s evening the smell of g trees, the full moon, the stars above all are part of this Knowing that we belong, that we are connected, that we are part of something much bigger than just this reality. But it needs us to reach out, to go out, to explore, to inhale, to feel, to smell, to touch. It is right there within our reach. If only we would stop for a little while, take the time to reflect…I am sure Nature will call us to action. It will enable us to see our Signi cance, that fact that we indeed are the manifestation of All.

Can it be that our problem is a spiritual one? That we are no longer connected as individuals to the Earth and its ecological system, that we have dumbed down our Selves to think that we are in control? That our concept of “Development” actually becomes one of total destruction? That our lack of “Awareness” is a result of our insistence that we are in charge of nature. Has it finally caught up with us? We are supposed to be the ones on the planet who THINK, we are supposedly rational, we can make informed decisions. Again, then why are we not doing that? Why are we not more concerned with the destruction of our planet? Why does it take an 11-year-old girl to wake us up? I find this seriously intriguing. I find it more intriguing that I still do not see that this waking up has moved us to serious action.

I nd exactly the same complacency in the world of ageing. We see how older people are treated, and we know that what is happening is wrong, we would not wish this on our worst enemy, and yet we sit back and accept it. We are told that we are all on our way there, some of us feel the heat of the re as we get nearer the coal face of our own ageing and our bodies start telling us the time. Yet, we do not act. Maybe we are just meant to slip quietly into our dotage, complacently accepting our fate of becoming “frail en feeble”. Somehow, this is not a very attractive proposition for me. I have seen the worst. I have watched too many living dead people hanging over the armrests of wheelchairs, drooling, drugged, spaced out, smelling of urine. Just as much as I do not think our future should be one where we have destroyed all our natural resources, I do not think our personal future should be one of steady physical and cognitive decline. Magnificent creatures that we are, intricate and complex and miraculous in our thinking and Being, incredible in the way that our bodies operate, creators of great art and music, writers of literature, architects and farmers of the soil, there must be more to this life than to simply let it slip from our fingers. It is our duty to rediscover our Essence, to reconnect with who we are, and to start a different journey towards Oneness. To see deeper, to feel endless empathy, to live with respect and kindness, to reach out and to touch, to be touched by the beauty of this Creation. It is time. Ten years will pass in the blink of an eye.

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