Reduce, re-use, re-cycle

Oftentimes in life, the different circumstances and experiences we encounter in a short period of time seem to have an uncanny resemblance and strange linkages. Take the last four weeks for me: some of the worst holiday weather I can ever remember (and now it is revealed that it has, in reality, been the gloomiest August on record); then there were the two sessions on climate change I attended at the Lambeth Conference which served to convince me that the whole thing is real and not just a capitalist plot; later, to the Dynamic Earth exhibition on Edinburgh, set beneath the towering and menacing presence of Arthur’s Seat and then, finally, as if by some strange symmetry, back to the Lambeth Conference where, in my Indaba group, I made friends with the Bishop of Louisiana whose See house is in New Orleans which waits, as we speak (or write), for the onslaught of Hurricane Gustav (follow Seperately, a few random unconnected events: together, further evidence of our planet’s changing weather patterns which will, if left to their own devices, triumph over humanity rather than we over it. So let’s look at a couple of links then: why not follow this link and see what you think… . Then, when you’ve pondered that one, have a look at this… .

Well here’s another link in the events of my last few weeks: for my birthday, I went to see Dark Knight at the local Odeon. Some mistake, surely? Can there be a connection between the latest Batman film and the environmental problems we are presently encountering? Well, the story line of  the film is a vast and panoramic one but, at its heart, is a tale as old as humanity: it is the story of the cosmic battle between good and evil. Batman is portayed as the ‘moral’ and incorruptible side of humanity: incapable of doing evil even if he wanted. The Joker is portrayed as amoral; capable of doing anything without remorse and with no self-doubt or self-criticism. But a new character is introduced into the mix: the honest and good District Attorney who, in his preparedness to fight evil with Batman, inadvertently brings about the death of his girlfriend and himself suffers grievous wounds to one side of his face. He is transformed and embittered so, in the one person, ‘Two-Face’, as he is now known, embodies both the best and the worst that a human being is capable of. He is more moral than Batman and more heinous than The Joker-all in the one person! 

Our attitude as a race, even to something as potentially lethal as climate change, is remarkably complacent. We sincerely want to end it but we also love and value those things which contribute to the problem: our cars, our foreign flights and much more. The human race is a collective Two Face.

At the end of the Dynamic Earth exhibition in Edinburgh, the tourists are invited to sit in a large ‘space pod’, and we are taken visually through the stars and around our own planet. We are then asked certain questions about how we should act for the good of our Earth’s future. There are no ‘right’ answers and there are no ‘wrong’ answers but, after each qustion our answers are collated and the effect of their implimentation is shown over a fifty year period. Here is not the purity of action of Batman or the disregard of The Joker, here is instead responsibility and a realisation of the effects of our actions despite what they are. And this is what I think we all need to accept: that addressing the threat of climate change, or any other threat for that matter, is not a matter of the ‘do-gooders’ choosing the right answers and the ‘devil take the hindmost’ set choosing the path of ruin, it is instead the knowledge that we can only go forward if we act in concert together and also act responsibly. The question remains therefore as to how we can achieve this sense of unified responsibility when, for some, profit is the only objective; for others, the triumph of their idealogies is the only goal and, for still others, the advancement of self is paramount.

In that great myth which begins the scriptures we know as Genesis we learn that God created man and woman ‘in the image of God’. So, we humans look upon this jewel of a planet we have been given to travel through the vast reaches of space, not just with the eyes of humanity, but with the eternal perspective of the Creator. Perhaps re-discovering what that means may help us leave behind short-termism and look instead to greater horizons for our world in the future. 

Incidentally, Dynamic Earth suggests we can succeed! See…


~ by Tim Ellis on September 1, 2008.

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