Paul Hawken has edited Drawdown, a comprehensive review and analysis of tangible actions that can mitigate the destruction of the natural environment which is now being precipitated by anthropogenic pollution and is most visible in global warming. Drawdown is the work of many professionals collaborating to synthesise practical mitigation actions.
This poem by Neil Gaiman was shared at the funeral of Marquerite Konig which I was fortunate to attend.
Margueritte shared her energetic, inspirational soul for 98 years! She even touched me, though I never met her, as I heard of her recent escapades from her son.
The poem is an insightful endorsement of observation and higher values.
The Mushroom Hunters
by Neil Gaiman
Science, as you know, my little one, is the study
of the nature and behaviour of the universe.
It’s based on observation, on experiment, and measurement,
and the formulation of laws to describe the facts revealed.
In the old times, they say, the men came already fitted with brains
designed to follow flesh-beasts at a run,
to hurdle blindly into the unknown,
and then to find their way back home when lost
with a slain antelope to carry between them.
Or, on bad hunting days, nothing.
The women, who did not need to run down prey,
had brains that spotted landmarks and made paths between them
left at the thorn bush and across the scree
and look down in the bole of the half-fallen tree,
because sometimes there are mushrooms.
Before the flint club, or flint butcher’s tools,
The first tool of all was a sling for the baby
to keep our hands free
and something to put the berries and the mushrooms in,
the roots and the good leaves, the seeds and the crawlers.
Then a flint pestle to smash, to crush, to grind or break.
And sometimes men chased the beasts
into the deep woods,
and never came back.
Some mushrooms will kill you,
while some will show you gods
and some will feed the hunger in our bellies. Identify.
Others will kill us if we eat them raw,
and kill us again if we cook them once,
but if we boil them up in spring water, and pour the water away,
and then boil them once more, and pour the water away,
only then can we eat them safely. Observe.
Observe childbirth, measure the swell of bellies and the shape of breasts,
and through experience discover how to bring babies safely into the world.
And the mushroom hunters walk the ways they walk
and watch the world, and see what they observe.
And some of them would thrive and lick their lips,
While others clutched their stomachs and expired.
So laws are made and handed down on what is safe. Formulate.
The tools we make to build our lives:
our clothes, our food, our path home…
all these things we base on observation,
on experiment, on measurement, on truth.
And science, you remember, is the study
of the nature and behaviour of the universe,
based on observation, experiment, and measurement,
and the formulation of laws to describe these facts.
The race continues. An early scientist
drew beasts upon the walls of caves
to show her children, now all fat on mushrooms
and on berries, what would be safe to hunt.
The men go running on after beasts.
The scientists walk more slowly, over to the brow of the hill
and down to the water’s edge and past the place where the red clay runs.
They are carrying their babies in the slings they made,
freeing their hands to pick the mushrooms.
Over 500 experts contributed. The consensus is that progress and attention is lagging the need for change. If data is restricted to those with a decade or more of experience the picture is worse.
Progress is dominated by social entrepreneurs and NGOs while national governments’ and corporates’ performance is considered poor.
The lack of attention by governments and corporates is underpinned by their “clients” – voters and consumers – so clearly there remains among people generally a lack of awareness of the need and opportunity for system change. People don’t perceive the dangers of failing commercial and social systems and the disintegration of Earth’s natural environment upon which we rely.
Perhaps this is not surprising. Except for change agents and social entrepreneurs, people are not engaged with the problems of the world but instead stick to traditional mindsets and routines. (The SDG’s themselves are fundamentally flawed in their promotion of growth, as opposed to working within natural laws and the capacity of the biosphere.) Continue reading Time is running out: Behind the curve on SDGs→
The title and the book’s intention, to offer a global perspective, were intriguing to me. Though not a history fan, it is increasingly clear that it is no help to see history from your own perspective because it is blinkered, full of self-serving interpretation and fails to expose the reality of the past. This book offers a big picture perspective.
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible- Jew, Gentile, black men, white…
We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others’ happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way.
Greed has poisoned men’s souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind.
We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery ,we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all.
Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people.
To those who can hear me, I say “Do not despair.”
The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.
Soldiers! Don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle, use you as cannon fodder!
Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men—machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men! You have a love of humanity in your hearts! You don’t hate!
Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural.
Soldiers! Don’t fight for slavery! Fight for liberty!
In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it’s written “the kingdom of God is within man”, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power.
Let us all unite.
Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfill their promise. They never will!
Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people!
Now let us fight to fulfill that promise! Let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance!
Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness.
Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us all unite!
We joined an eclectic group at Voice Box at the end of June. We were asked to talk for five minutes about Common Sense, a book about people, planet and profit by a venture capitalist. Here is the edited version of the video showing the slides more clearly. Enjoy!
The idea is to do Common Sense in 5 minutes (apparently the bell rings when time is up. 😉 ) It will be a challenge, but fun. Now to squash the book in to 5 minutes before next week …!
Also there will be
John McKew, IT Carlow lecturer
Majella Swan, Carlow School of Music & aspiro choir
Ed Byrne – limestone / salvage
Eddie Sheehan – musician / composer, teaches at Carlow College
It should make for an interesting evening. Please come along. Ask questions!