The Gift of Good Land, Wendell Berry, 1981, Counterpoint,USA


“The forest could not survive because we could not see it; we saw clear fields.  The prairies could not survive because in their place we saw cornfields and pastures sowed to the cool-season grasses of the old world.  And this habit of assigning a higher value to what might be than to what is has stayed with us, so that we have continued to sacrifice the health of our land and of our own communities to the abstract values of money making and industrialism.”  pg 82


I enjoyed bed and breakfast at the Farmhouse B&B in Barwick near Yeovil this last Friday and Saturday nights.  The breakfast room contains a fantastic library of literature, history, politics, religion, some fiction and much more.  I happened to pick up this book and found the quote above.  Barwick is just a hamlet.  There I found the peace and quiet I crave more and more as the years grow on me.  With the quiet and time to reflect, I let myself become somewhat depressed over the impact and truth of the above. 


In my book, Planet as Self, I ask: why do we not love the Earth, Gaia?  My answer is that it is because we don’t know who we are.  We have lost the connection, the realisation perhaps of our higher self, the self that is the planet.  We are taught that we live ON a planet when actually, we are the planet similar to how the leaves are the tree.  Think about it, is the tree its roots?  Is it its trunk, branches, bark?  All these so called parts – as human language labels them – are the tree.


We are taught, as unbelievable as it may appear to some, that the planet is inanimate – dead, with live bits clinging to the surface. Stop and think about it, please.  How does life emerge from non-life?  There attempts to explain this, for instance, the hot bubbly, chemical soup that just happened to spring forth life.  Emergent properties within matter.  It may be our dichotomies that obscure our vision, our understanding.  Those same people who go with the emergent properties story must agree that science will not and perhaps cannot agree as to just what it is life and what is not life.  Without that answer, then to say that life just emerges from within somewhere, somehow doesn’t really help us much to understand existence. 


At the present moment in history, there is far more evidence to support the idea of a living planet, a conscious planet than the idea of inanimate matter that just happened to conjure up life from non-life.  The Gaia theory suggests that the Earth behaves as if it is a living organism.  Many scientists agree on this.  “As if.”  However, let us be honest with ourselves, if it walks like a turtle, looks like a turtle, eats what turtles like to eat, pulls in its head and feet when threatened, then it is a turtle.  Why not?  How else do you recognise a turtle? 


“We will not fight to save what we do not love.”  Stephen Jay Gould.  Yes, Stephen has a good point here.  As long as the planet is “out there.”  As long as we feel the separation and continue to think that Nature is to be somehow overcome and controlled we will remain still.  I ask myself, how much sacrifice is the planet worth?  I am not happy with my answer, are you happy with yours?