Some of the smartest dummies
Can’t read the language of Egyptian mummies
They can fly to a moon
Yet can’t find food for the starving tummies
They pay no mind to the youths
Cause its not like the future depends on it
But save the animals in the zoo
Cause the chimpanzees they make big money
Are we born not knowing, are we born knowing all?
Are we growing wiser or are we just growing tall?
Can you read thoughts? Can you read palms?
Can you predict the future, can you see storms coming?
Who wrote the Bible? Who wrote the Quran?
Or was it a lightning storm that gave birth to the Earth?
And then dinosaurs were born?
Who made up words? Who made up numbers?
And what kind of spell is mankind under?
Everything on the planet we preserve and can it
Microwave it and try it
No matter what we’ll survive it
Whats hue? Whats man? Whats human?
Anything along the land we consume it
Eat it, delete it, ruin it…….
I just got off a call with a friend in Berlin.
I was telling her about my out-of-body experience in Tombstone Territorial Park this past autumn . We were discussing how beautiful the photographs were I had sent her a few weeks back and I wanted to express just how incredible this place truly was, Emphasizing that I could never really put words to the experience of actually being there.
I told her how on the second day of hiking, I couldn’t get over how beautiful the scenery was around me or how beautiful the moment was to be there with my son and my husband that I actually didn’t believe I was alive or on Earth anymore.
The thought occurred to me that nothing on Earth was ever this perfect and therefore, I must be somewhere else. Everything felt like a dream. I walked on for hours contemplating if I was really me and if I was truly still alive or somehow, somewhere else.
I had never experienced that before….to be so amazed by the nature around me that I couldn’t believe it was real.
When she suddenly interrupted me, in a rather matter-of-the-fact tone, stating: “Yes that’s OUR planet”.
The conversation ended shortly after that statement. My mind couldn’t get beyond the fact that she referred to this scenario as “OUR planet”. What is “OUR planet”? All I could think was: You live in a metropolitan centre with a population of five million, a concrete jungle. You have no clue what I am actually talking about and are not even trying to understand what I am attempting to describe and its significance.
I have been grappling with this concept a lot lately. I’ve never thought of the entire earth as “mine” or imagined myself in some sort of collective ownership outside of the fact that everyone should be doing their part to protect and care for the environment they live in which requires a deeply-rooted understanding of place. Our environments are unique, as are the diverse cultural systems that have developed within them over centuries in space and time.
My mind flashed back to the soul-crushing experience of arriving at the remote camp #2 at Divide Lake in Tombstone Park. Some 25km in by foot over a steep, challenging pass, the evening after my incredible experience with the Tombstone landscape. A group of photographers had helicoptered in to photograph the northern lights. Sitting around the communal cooking tent, one of the photographers called out to another: “We should totally call the pilot to bring us pizza and beer!”-“Yeah man! That would be so dope.” was the response. I sat quietly stuffing my mouth with rice noodles so I wouldn’t say something rude like “You do realize this is a fragile ecosystem and helicopters disturb the wildlife and environment….also the people that have just finished a gruelling hike to be out here in remote wilderness.”
“Who wants a latte?”- The next one calls out, bragging to the few other campers that are allowed in the 10 designated sites how much food they choppered in. (As if we didn’t notice that their packs were taking up the entire cook tent.) My vision of remote, undisturbed wilderness was fractured.
Every photograph of beautiful remote scenery now has me wondering the impact of that image. What did you do to get that shot? Do you understand and respect what you are capturing? Or is it just about self-image and arrogance? Designating a protected space on a map in the Arctic or subarctic, basically makes it the centre of a target for photographers and rich tourists seeking unchartered territories. Nevermind the caribou or the plants that take hundreds of years to grow in such extreme conditions. The next group that helicoptered in to Talus Lake at camp #3 requested the pilot to return with Oysters and more brandy…..She slipped on a rock hours later and then needed a lift out. Perhaps another brandy to ease the pain?
I am currently studying Circumpolar Studies at the University of the Arctic and am bombarded with factual postcards from fellow classmates on a daily basis as to how the circumpolar north is being affected by a variety of factors as the last frontier to be exploited for resources and last chance tourism. Come see the polar bears before they all die due to the impacts of climate change. (Be sure to fly around in a helicopter for hours waving, watching them attempt to run away below. You can run but you can’t hide majestic creature!) Each week we are given a new topic to research and write postcards on to cover the wealth of information there is to know about the current and historic realities of the circumpolar north. We learn about melting ice caps, Indigenous nations spanning the north, the Arctic resources race, politics, economy, sustainability and exploitation to the point of no return, rendering northern flora and fauna to the brink of extinction. (I have decided to share the postcards I wrote in the Forum in case anyone is interested in learning more about these topics.)
“My son, stop wasting the water. Don’t open the tap wider than a trickle. You know we only have what’s here in this small tank. We need to be resourceful.” - I hear myself, thinking how this would have been a reality for my grandparents growing up. No running water, no electricity, cooking on a wood stove, hunting, gathering, respecting, understanding. “Mama, everyone I know has running water, television, video games, a house.” My son, You will know more important things living this way.
You need to understand the value of water, the value of the land and everything worth-wild....