Green Room

24/04/2018

At this time of year, cock pheasants are full of their masculinity and they are willing to face down anything that they perceive as trespassing on their territory.

Nothing is too large to tackle, which is one of the reasons why we see so many lying dead at the roadside – a 1.4 kg pheasant is no match for a tonne or more of speeding metal – but they died fighting their corner.

Aggressive behaviour is, of course, a common element in animal life. It is driven by the basic needs of survival of the individual and of the species, and its outcomes are frequently death, and the destruction of life and of the environment chosen as the theatre for battle. In humans, gender stereotyping adds the dimension ‘men make war, women make peace’.

There’s no need to look far to find mindless violence in our society, carried out using an ever-expanding and sophisticated arsenal of hardware mainly by male political leaders. What a pathetic species we are.

In Eyal Weizman’s book Forensic Architecture he points out that damage to the environment is not always the collateral damage of conflict, but is now regarded as part of the arsenal of war.

He says: “Environmental destruction or degradation over an extended timescale can be the means by which belligerents pursue their aims”. If we can make life unsustainable for our opponents, we can win the battle.

In the village pub we often discuss environmental issues such as climatic change and, rarely aspiring to any great profundity, we occasionally throw up one-liners that sow seeds for deeper thought.

A few evenings ago discussion was becoming quite heated when Ernie piped up ‘what’s the point of protecting our environment when the men of war are soon to come along and blow it all up?’

It certainly killed the conversation, but I couldn’t help wondering whether our inability or unwillingness to deal with global environmental issues can be attributed in part to such a sense of hopelessness.

If we believe that our care of God’s creation is a pointless act in the face of our inability to live in harmony with each other, then we seem to be on the threshold of believing that life itself is pointless.

But a healthy environment is a more resilient environment, capable of recovering from damage inflicted upon it and, like the sand castle built on the shore only to be destroyed by the incoming tide, we have the hope of the new sand exposed on the ebb tide.

At Pentecost, God offers us hope – hope of a renewed life based on love, respect and communication, not on toxic hatred and an overwhelming hunger for power to be satiated at any price.  Let this Pentecost be a time when we take hope on board; hope for a renewed and sustainable environment.

  • 2017 Eyal Weizman: Violence at the Threshold of Detectability.  MIT Books

 

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