By Anne from Saltspring Island.
I am temporarily nesting in a small, simple cabin over the winter months. It overlooks a green, dreamy lake mirrored in magnificence by a thick array of trees standing tall and proud. Each morning, flocks of vocal feathered friends and I greet our connection to all this splendour. This particular morning, however, would be so profoundly different for me, a personal revelation or am I yet another humble conduit for the earth’s urgent message? It began with a glimpse of a delicate, golden leaf spiralling down in its dance to the ground. This very ordinary sight would yield the deeply unsettling reminder that unlike the leaf who in its “aliveness” gives us breath and in its “death” gives enrichment, sadly humanity is only offering up our dance of destruction.
We are the TAKERS. We take the soil, digging, extracting and contaminating. We take the water resources of lakes, streams and rivers and destroy their precious purpose of sustaining all life. We bulldoze paradise and replace it with arteries of highways, sterile big-box stores, half-empty, paved parking lots and vast swaths of suburbia bursting with larger-than-necessary houses filled with our plastic possessions. We take over the oceans of glorious undersea gardens housing majestic creatures of the deep and fill them with toxic dead zones of our waste while endless cargo ships, floating hotels and large fishing fleets leave depletion and destruction in their wake. We take over the skies with invisible highways choked with airplanes, belching smoke stacks, noxious clouds and faded blue. We take over mountains, disturbing their pure and silent majesty with year-round playgrounds for our noisy, self-indulgent amusement. We take away the magic of the changing seasons with our incessant whining of dissatisfaction.
We want, we want, “designer” weather days of 24 degrees, all sunshine, no rain, no humidity with only a pinch of a breeze while we roast our skin to perfection lazing on pollution-riddled beaches. We take over farmlands and gardens with pesticides in shiny containers with warning labels silencing the voices and the giving of birds and insects vital to our very survival. We take over invisible airways saturating them with radioactive “umbilical cords” feeding our addictions to high-tech “toys” to soothe the disconnect from ourselves and our natural surroundings. All the while hidden dystopias of hazardous waste poison the planet while we stand in long line-ups waiting for next year’s models to arrive from “Toyland”. We take other species killing them in soundproof slaughterhouses, torture traps or with paramilitary style weapons. Many are killed for “fun”, dismembered, then posed for the camera with the smiles of their killers. We take the horns and tusks from dying gentle giants, turning them into cheap and ugly trinkets or ground-up powders offering false promises. We take captive the wild and free from the jungles and Serengeti, then hold them as sad-eyed prisoners in barred enclosures for profit and idle curiosity. We take over invisible borders of our making with arsenals of death taking lives, livelihoods and resources in our ongoing futile and pathetic quest for imagined power, glory, domination and control.
All our taking has resulted in the very frightening reality of climate change due to our disrespectful, ignorant and reckless interference in nature’s wisdom and mystery. Now, we must confront the veiled, artificial existences we have so erroneously embraced for too long and replace them with ones of healing creativity, gratitude, simplicity and grace. We must take heed of the responsible stewardship of ancient civilizations who took but always gave back. While the sounds of the ice drip and the song of the canary pierce the madness of our making, we must hurry now and quickly learn the giving dance of the golden leaf. We must become CARE-takers of our Mother Earth once again before the safe and soothing sound of her lullaby grows too weak for us to hear.