Thursday, 18 February 2010
This week we welcomed a baby girl into our household. It’s a deep privilege to support Hester, my stepdaughter, with her rite of passage that is motherhood and to help her practically with Wren’s transition in to the world. Wren’s birth has reminded me of the miraculousness of life creating itself, and the total innocence, nakedness, with which we enter this world.
And how does that innocence turn into the level of overconsumption and unbalance that we are witnessing today, with one billion people obese and another billion starving? How have we brought ourselves to (some say, over) the brink of our own survival? How did the indigenous soul, used to living in balance for perhaps up to 100,000 years, go wrong? I don’t think mankind is programmed to self-destruct, as some people say. I prefer the line taken in extraordinary novel Ishmael in which author Daniel Quinn describes our ‘taker’ culture as simply a culture of beliefs, that arose about 6,000 years ago, with the advent of patriarchal societies, religions and agriculture. Unlike genetics, beliefs can be changed.
Innocence is a big theme for me as I try to shed blame from my communications about climate change, whose facts still remain. I’ve been wrestling with the question: how can we do what we do in full knowledge of the effects? How can my neighbour, a green activist, fly around the world, knowing what he knows? And inevitably, as my finger points with three fingers pointing back, the question is most usefully turned around to me: why am I behaving self-destructively, knowing what I know? As someone who has lived through the near-death experience of cancer, why do I indulge in alcohol and dark thoughts?
All I can say is, I’m working on it, just as we all are, of course. It helps to remind myself that I’m innocent, to ask forgiveness for my flaws, and to be immensely, wondrously, gloriously and joyfully grateful for the wonder and flow of life living itself.