Saturday, 10 September 2011

Standing at the crossroads

we hope that the collection of essays in wanton green will offer food for thought and emotional challenge to our readers. The final chapter, however, offered our authors a new challenge of “what should we do/ might happen next?”. The following piece came in after we’d gone to final settings, so we offer it in full here.

Standing at the crossroads: Melissa Harrington

As Pagans we seek an intimate connection to the Earth.  But how do we the face environmental challenges that appear to be fierce and immediate? For me, I have given up activism, given up direct debits to green charities, with whom I have become disillusioned, and everything begins at home - recycling, eco householding, beach clearing,  litter picking, composting, writing to MPs and newspapers, and furthering local causes as much as possible. Perhaps it's my age.

The zeitgeist of the 21st century is Pagan friendly; we are now at a point where our faith makes sense to members of the wider populace. But it will move on, a new zeitgeist will surely come when morals and values change once more, and perhaps the green issues will be ignored in the rougher, tougher harder times that are ahead, and Paganism's gentle enchantments will seem less relevant.

I believe that whatever  we do the earth will go on, and one day the sun will die, and so will our planet; but whether humans will be here then is another matter, for we are part of her evolution as were the dinosaurs. We may have reached the stars from whence we are drawn, we may have annihilated each other, or  live in a post apocalypse survival state where all this means nothing, and we scrape our living as hunted- gathers once more.

In the meantime we need to husband the Earth, to try to keep her as the Eden into which we were born. In Europe we need to develop the use of her natural resources via water turbines, solar power, ground source heat pumps, geothermal energy etc. We also need to make realistic political solutions to pollution and energy requirements, without falling for green hysteria such as the increasingly shaky presumptions and solutions regarding global warming, that now appear to have been based on bad science and pointless propaganda.
As Pagans, as humans, we can only do our best, for ourselves, for our planet and for the future, and that surely has to be a commitment that goes for all people of all races and creeds. It goes beyond beliefs in the supernatural domain, and right to the heart of our place in nature herself, and in that we are joined with all of humanity, whose simplest will it to survive. We in the affluent West cannot presume that third world countries will stop producing pollution, nor that we continue to ship our unsorted recycling to their landfill sites, where children pick at it for pence to survive. We have to get a world wide solution, involving huge changes to our industries, commerce, power systems, banking and foreign aid.

One of the most influential people I know, who makes these changes happen, is a banker; a pagan banker who works with banks to try to write off third world debts, and look at ways to make their economies flourish. He is not in any group, nor follows any particular pagan path, but he has been committed to this since he was at school, and his wife is a leading environmentalist and Wiccan priestess. One of the difficulties for us as Pagans maybe to leave the Other worlds where we often feel most at home for the real hard human worlds, and make effective changes there, to be truly part of it and its most mundane, capital and commercial systems. For a people who are often mystics and dreamers, more often found as activists sitting in trees, or on greenfields in eco protest,  many who spend years immersed in the arcane world with little career or political ambitions, doing that could be one of our greatest challenges of all. 

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