Our Burning Planet

Our Burning Planet Reflection

Message from an Elder: We have an obligation to love and cherish all life on our tiny, fragile sphere

Message from an Elder: We have an obligation to love and cherish all life on our tiny, fragile sphere
(Photo: Unsplash / Greg Rakozy)

In my final years, I accept my role as an Elder of my species at a time of imbalance up on the skin of this beautiful blue planet in the infinity of space.

In accepting this I am aware it does not grant me the right to act for any but my own species. Life is a magical unfolding of which we are but a part. Each species has the right to develop in its own way within the limits of overall sustainability.

The Earth seems so huge, bountiful and available for our use, but that is because we are so relatively small. It is, in truth, a tiny, fragile sphere in vast emptiness. Upon it we have become biomic invaders of the lands of others who have been our companions on life’s journey.

Without bacteria we would not have developed skin. Without fish we would have no backbones. Without amphibians we would not have found a place to land. Without forests we would have died for want of air, food and safety. Without elephants there would have been no savannas and plains animals to challenge us into intelligence and sentience. They are all our ancestors.

All life requires a degree of asymmetry to innovate and move forward within the equilibrium of Earth’s interconnected systems. But my species has unbalanced those systems to the degree that they are shifting to a new normal antithetical to life itself.

Eldership demands a commitment to addressing and, where possible, righting this problem. It is, on reflection, what I have attempted through much of my life, but the urgency is growing.

At root the problem lies in our constant aggression against each other and the natural world and in our failure to love, cherish and delight in that which Earth is. Love can only thrive where there is sufficient balance to allow it to grow. This is not just the love between individuals but of the fragile, muscular, astounding and unlikely unfolding of life itself. If we need a deity, it is the ever-changing, sparkling fabric of existence.

When we as a species lose the awe and reverence for this, we no longer care if we block it or turn it to a narrow purpose. If we need a name for the damage done, evil is as close as it gets. In furthering our own good, we far too often become the instruments of that evil.

We are the product of an extraordinary evolution towards intelligence. That I am able to write these words and frame these thoughts is testament to the ability we humans have to understand how life unfolds and why. It is both a gift and an obligation.

The gift is unfathomable. Why we among the billions of stars can look upon them with understanding is beyond our capability to comprehend. But we do, and because of that we have the obligation – to life itself – to keep the balance, to cherish and celebrate, not just each other, but all the living nations in whatever body form they take and also the biome we together make that sustains all life.

As an Elder I am pledged to lead always to equilibrium within my species, to mark the path towards greater love for the magnificence of all existence, in whatever way I can. That way is, and always has been, the path of the heart in all things.

There are, really, just two appropriate responses to being alive: reverence and laughter. DM/OBP

Absa OBP

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Nic Tsangarakis says:

    Beautiful piece Don. We do have an obligation to nurture and protect our amazing planet.

  • Tracy Bailey says:

    Beautiful, Don, thank you

  • Clementina Van der Walt says:

    Such a moving poignant piece, thank you Don

  • Ritchie Morris says:

    Thank you Dr Don for grounded truth about human – environment relationship. Your words should form a large framed poster in each and every corporate office entrance hall, boardroom, government environmental and municipal offices, plus factory worker areas, so that they can be frequently read by all. Without a sound environment we wont have a healthy society, and without a respectful and conscious society, we wont have a healthy environment.

    • Coffee@ dawn says:

      Couldn’t agree more

    • J.F. Aitchison says:

      Hear! Hear! How do we overcome greed? People who have so much money that they cannot possibly use it; yet still want more, and are quite prepared to go to nefarious, underhand and nasty methods to get it. Also there are too many people on our planet, the majority of whom live in some or other degree of poverty; the population or earth is fast becoming unsustainable.

  • Coffee@ dawn says:

    I have read and re-read and am so moved by your words. Totally agree with @Ritchie Morris; this should be printed large on every space conceivable and more than that, it needs to be imprinted in the minds of all humanity.

  • Alastair Stalker says:

    I too am an Elder but I’m ashamed what my species has done to this beautiful planet. I have a Carbon Conscience for the life I have led but I’m trying to do something to offset what I have done. The one species that does not need my assistance is my own species. We are over whelming the Earth and its resources. I will do anything to help the species which we are driving to extinction. I know my small physical and financial contributions are not even a drop in the bucket but what we need is a Billion people doing what I’m doing and then perhaps we can live in equilibrium with those species which are left.

  • Helen Swingler says:

    Eldership is a precious resource that takes years to grow, nurtured by a fragile planet. It’s that investment that makes it imperative to replough the wisdom. It’s Western society’s loss that elders are folded away and set apart in homes and retirement places. We need elders to remain active within the world, in touch, part of communities, to have a voice, to nurture and guide. A beautiful piece. Thank you.

  • Wonderful essay on the reality of being a human. Thank you Don

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