Monday, December 11, 2006

Climate Change & A Spiritual Revolution

No less an icon than Kirk Douglas was reported in this morning's Guardian as calling upon my generation to take its future into its own hands. The most memorable paragraph is this one:

"Generation Y, you are on the cusp. You are the group facing many problems: abject poverty, global warming, genocide, Aids, and suicide bombers to name a few. These problems exist, and the world is silent. We have done very little to solve these problems. Now, we leave it to you. You have to fix it because the situation is intolerable."

Having just turned ninety he can be excused from saying this in the second person. But another senior citizen has pointed out that climate change is also brought about by small and complex changes in our orbitting of the sun. Alan Garner pointed out in his 2003 essay 'The Poetry That Lies Beneath Our Feet' that the last time the planet went through a similar change in climate, when the human population was much smaller, it is unlikely that it led to many people drowning:

Twelve and a half thousand years ago, the temperature rose by 7C, and the sea level by 400 feet, in 50 years. Yet it is unlikely that many human beings drowned as a direct result. People adapted and moved. The massive global warming led to agriculture, farming, the development of writing, the building of cities (that is, civilization), and ironically the freeing for occupation of a huge land mass that is now the main polluter and threat to our fragile and overloaded human ecology: America.

His mentioning of America reminds me of Karen Armstrong's insistence on our return to some of the values of the Axial Age (an age the philosopher Karl Jaspars categorised as happening between 800 and 200 BCE and comprising the lives of Socrates, Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Jeremiah, the Buddha, Confucius and Lao Tzu, Armstrong even tries to squeeze Jesus and Muhammad in). She insists that these values can make us realise that all human beings are as important as ourselves and lead us to venerate the earth as sacred rather than as an infinite resource. Without such a spiritual revolution we wil not save the planet.

Now, back to America. Today I rediscovered an article from the astroarchaeology website that pointed out the similarities between the Red Indians and the ancient Irish race of the Tuatha de Dannan. The whole thing is worth reading, but here is part of a speech by a Native American which is kind of an open addrss to the Great Chief in Washington:

Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover – our god is the same god. You may think that you own him as you wish to own the land but you cannot. This Earth is precious to the great spirit, and to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed, and one night you will suffocate in your own waste.

And down the side of the screen is the earliest known Irish poem. It comes not only from a pre-Christian society, but it was written before Christ lived and as well as having similarities to the fierce and omnipotent God of the Old Testament, it is a God who makes it clear that we are the ones who are fragile surrounded by the earth that he has created:


I am the wind on the ocean
I am the rolling wave
I am the murmur of the billows
I am the bull of seven battles
I am the falcon on the rock
I am the dewdrop in the Sun
I am the lovely flower
I am the wild boar
I am the salmon in the pool
I am the lake in the plain
I am the power of art
I am the point of a lance in battle
I am the God who creates the fire in the head.

Who casts the light
into the gathering on the mountain?
Who announces the ages of the moon?
Who points to the Sun?

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