COP26 #14 (it begins)

So, great men and women are meeting in Glasgow, with the fate of the world in their hands.

Meanwhile, other forces are pushing back. Using the same spoil tactics developed by the tobacco industry, the paid-for ‘think tanks’, stacked with sypathetic pseudo-science aimed to cast doubt and confuse; the politicians in the back pocket, the media outlets primed and ready to push an agenda suited to those whose power and wealth is threatened by a change to the status quo. (If you want to know more about exactly how this works, I would suggest watching this BBC film.)

Here is another poem. My retelling of the Gaia myth.

The woman beneath the hill of the world

.

They say the earth is a woman

Wrapped in a gossamer layer of

Brown-green skin

Runnelled and pooled by

Salt tears

.

They say the woman is barren, for her sterile

Soils are not fed from the falling leaves

Now the trees are gone, and

Long tresses of her deep green hair

Have been stored as silage

.

They say the woman mourns her children

Whose bones now brine the ocean, and

Whose dawn song is no longer sung

Whose savannahs have all

Been stolen

.

They say the woman speaks to mountains

But they no longer listen; that she

Looks for signs in distant stars but their blink

Is blurred by all the smoke from her

Burning forests

.

They say the woman would write her story

Except that the black ink in her wells

Have all been pumped dry, and the

Tail-feather-quills from her favourite flightless birds

Have all been plucked away

.

The woman has not gone yet, they say

For she has nowhere else to go. There are

No lands beyond these fields for her

No other ground she could lay down

So beneath her hill she stays

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

COP26 #13

I was talking to a friend about how we do not notice change happening all around us, as if we are pre-programmed to assume stasis, even though our whole lives have been subject to continual change. We do not have to ponder long to consider how the world has changed in our own lifetimes. I am 54 years old, so was born before the internet, before mobile phones, before global warming was first widely identified (we commonly mention the first 1971 climate change conference) and before ABBA even.

I say this as we all have to live with the ever present reality of impending ecological disaster brought about by global warming. It can be overwelming and almost impossible to imagine both the scale of what is coming and how we might change the arc of recent history. Yet change IS possible. The pandemic should have made this clearer than ever.

If we add just a few generations into our change concept, then the human impact on the world around us becomes impossible to ignore. Rather than reading this as a death spiral down towards destruction, we have to remind ourselves that what is made by human hands can also be unmade, reshaped and reformed.

St Brigid’s well, Lough Derg, Donegal.

I am also still constantly wondering what it means to live a good life in our changing context, because personal change requires some level of aspiration. What models of goodness still apply? What do we aim ourselves towards and measure ourselves by?

The old religious ideas of goodness seem mostly irrelevent, with their emphasis on personal salvation from (mostly) sexual sin, rewarded only in the next life. I would suggest however that these models of goodness were always at best a contextualised, partial reading of the texts that they trumpeted so freely. Other kinds of goodness were ALWAYS there, but we have to reclaim them, place them front and centre and then allow them to reclaim us.

In many ways, this is what this blog is all about. I do not say this because I can claim any personal victory or success over my own demons, but rather because the journey has to start from where we are.

Today, on the teetering edge of the COP, I offer you this thought. What if goodness might require a letting go of old binary/dualistic ideas of good and bad – seductive and ego-satisfying as they always are – and deliberately moving towards ideas of deep connection, non-violence and partnership with the world and with each other. In the words of the book ‘against such there is no law’.

More than this we have to consider how this might change and challenge our attitudes. I would suggest it might be important to look in these directions;

resilience in place of growth


collaboration in place of consumption

co-operation in place of competition


wisdom in place of progress


balance in place of addiction


moderation in place of excess


vision in place of convenience


accountability in place of disregard


self-giving love in place of self-centered fear

Spiritual rather than material satisfaction

(Adapted from CAC post)

This is just idealistic nonsense, right? Well, perhaps, but remember that change is shaped not just by power and progress, but also by the cultural context. The industrial revolution was almost entirely protestant Christian. It is time to move beyond this towards a new vision of goodness. We do not have to look far, but we have to look hard.

COP26 #12

Truth is dead.

At present it seems that truth has never been so partial, so sectarian. Truth is what our tribe wants it to be. It is fed to us by algorithm. It has no external frame of reference.

But if you know the truth, it will set you free. What does this mean? It is perhaps not surprising that these words were spoken in the context of Jesus challenging religious dogma; blinkered narrow views that victiised and enslaved others.

As we run up to COP26, one of the greatest obstacles we face in trying to commit to real positive action is the way that truth has been deliberately distorted, by politicians, think tanks and faux-acedemics, all in the paid service of the oil industry, who have spent millions to muddy the waters.

Photo by lilartsy on Pexels.com

1984 and more

The field was full, said Spicer

The NHS is broken

The Holocaust was fake news

The world is not warming

(And I never touched that woman)

Wealth trickles down

Poverty is the direct consequence of indolence

I did not say what you heard me say

And should you contradict

Future truth will land only in the laps

Of some other network

Ignore those all those pinko academics,

for I have alternative facts

from the University of Google

Conspiracies are the spice of my digital life

This kind of toxicity resists all known antibiotics

It seems that even silicon

Can fester

Reality is inside the human skull said O’Brian

It has no external dimension

With a dismissive flick of my hand

I remake the laws of nature

1984

And more.

COP26 #13

I have been thinking about the old religious word ‘resurrection’. Like many of these words, it has layers of meaning. It also becomes a hermaneutic through which we understand other meanings. It shapes the way we see.

The raising of life from death. The coming of spring. The restart after failure. The hope that seems hopeless.

Then this phrase, which for some reason always breaks me open; Behold, I am making all things new.

Behold. I am making all things re-newed. It is not over, it is still becoming.

My faith flickers only, but… Amen.

Photo by Daniel Reche on Pexels.com

Resurrection

.

I care not for carefully crafted theories of atonement

Make it myth or firmest fact, or just

Some old and cold convention

Don old bonnets or blue bunny suits

Cantata or carouse it

But me, I search the sky for hope

I long for resurrection

.

I long for greens at the tips of trees

For stirrings deep in soil

For a pulse aflutter under brand-new skin

Marking the end of unpotential, when

Spring is carried in by warm winds

And souls unfold, like leaves

Like lengthening days, reaching out

For resurrection

.

Roll away the stone

For behold, all things are made again, and

We all need second chances

.

After longest silence comes the song

Comes the knowing right from wrong

And the grace to make things better

Lets make messiah from our mud and blood

And practice resurrection

COP26 #12

We are in Ireland at the moment, visiting family, staying over in the bog country, full of smell of burning peat. Imagine my surprise then when I saw this;

How is it possible that globalisation has meant that we are importing peat to Ireland- to the place famous the world over for its peat? There is madness to this, but also…

Firstly, I should not be surprised. Commodities are globalised. That is how it is. If there is a market for coals in Newcastle, then it does not matter where those coals come from. If a Canadian lumberjack needs wood for his fence, why should he not go down to his DIY store and buy wood that was grown in Sri Lanka?

Secondly, who am I to even complain? I am burning the stuff after all. I am sending up my pyre of ancient carbon. I drove here in my 10 year old diesel car which did more of the same, therefore I am a hypocrite and as such should be immediately silenced.

If we are to save the world some things need to change, that goes without saying, but one of the most obvious is the need to restore ‘local’ to be a primary consideration when trading and buying goods. There is good evidence that not only does this have a significant environmental benefit, it can actually restore communities.

If you are interested in how this might work, check out what has been going on in Preston.

Must go now- need to put more peat on the fire.

COP26 #11

Today we had a budget released that hardly mentioned climate change, by a party that recently voted NOT to enforce penalties against the privatised water companies whose systems are unable to protect our rivers from repeated discharges of raw sewage.

It seemed entirely right to re-post this poem today.

Dirty old river

.

Dirty old river all rusty and brown

Coughs out a ship from the dirty old town

Scavenging birds patrol overhead

Searching for things only recently dead

.

Last resort trawler hauls close up to shore

Scrapes the last scallop and the very last prawn

Flatiron-shaped tug smooths out towards sea

Like the impossible flight of the last bumble bee

.

Dirty old river that once was so pretty

Collects like a sewer from the arse of this city

Where once swam the salmon, the perch and brown trout

Now just jobbies are bobbing about

COP26 #10

Lies we tell each other

.

Money greases wheels that turn

The world around, and

I am not lost, I’m found

The bigger men will harder fall, for they

Lack our humble cushion

Our enemy is Russian

.

Fulfilment comes consuming this

Joy is made through data

I’m just a late starter

When we wish on falling stars

Trickle-down comes calling

All poetry is boring

.

The common good embraces this;

My own accumulating

Stress is not enervating

Christmas comes but once a year

We show great love through spending

Our world is never ending

COP26 #8

The laugh

.

When you feel despair at the state of the world,

Do something small.

Ignore those voices without or deep within

Calling you fool for refusing a tyrannical logic

Achieved only by cynical wisdom –

Then do it anyway.

.

When you feel broken by all the cruelty the world contains,

Reach out, remembering that humanity

Can only be collectively encountered.

Allow empathy to be an umbilical conduit

For a nutrient called kindness.

What else are we for?

.

When overwhelmed by the size of the mountain

Walk slower, saving breath for conversation

For miles pass fast in company, then as words fade

Listen for the fat laugh

Deep down in the belly

Of all that is still becoming.

COP26 #7

Another poem of hope and connection, which suggests a world not ruled by the survival of the fittest, but rather by the eventual realisation of unification and interdependance.

This recording was made in the immediate wake of the death of my sister.

Every subsequent spring

.

All things die

You know this, but know it again

Not so as to live in deaths dark valley

Or to let fear fence you from the joy of living

Rather know it so death does not fool you

So it does not rule you

.

Know it because, like last year’s leaves

(Or the spirit that stirs in oak trees)

Nothing is ever wasted, nothing rejected

Instead, all of us will come to participate

In every subsequent spring

From now into ever after

Amen