Nature is everywhere, Nature is us

As you read this right now, we humans use half of the world to live. This includes growing crops, using trees as timber, and pasture for the animals we have tamed as pets or as livestock to eat. If you added us all up we would weigh 10 times as much as all the wild animals put together. We make our roads through forests and hills to gain access to concrete jungles we have built our dwellings. Not to be content with the take over, we have added little plastic particles to the sand on ocean beaches through our ever increasing thirst for pre-packaged items and gadgets that we change nearly as often as our clothes. Changing the chemistry of the soil with our artificial fertilisers, and even engineer the plants so that in some way they become better than the originals. The air we all breath has also changed, as we breathe in the fumes from the metallic beasts we created, which roam from street to street, and through villages to cities.

We have gone from the actor at the side to the director of corporate Planet Earth, autotuning the voice as the dictator of the planet. So what then is nature in a world that is influenced and run by humans? As we share this planet with other animals, and all the other plants, and all the other microbes, yet we act as superior beings to them. Like lord and ladies of the manor we expect them to be our servants and slaves. However, only this week there was public outcry when it was believed that the British parliament was trying to show animals are not sentient beings. If it had been true it would have led to a backdoor being open allowing further hurt through unnecessary testing in laboratories to destroying habitats through fracking, and a return of fox hunting that is more a game of pleasure by a selective elite than a necessity to keep their numbers low. Nature is everywhere, all our senses recognise it, but we are still are blind and deaf to the need to protect it from further damage.

I remember my high school biology teacher telling us about the many boxes Charles Darwin brought back from his travels, but over a third were still not looked in by the 1990s. This left me stunned, in the time since their collection over a 150 years previously, and further twenty-twenty five since then to the present. The world has changed dramatically with all we have done to the world through the Industrial Revolution, World Wars and the present with our digital world. To think that we may have wiped out a rare plant species that could cure cancer or AIDS and other diseases that lies in one of those boxes. My heart sank then at the realisation of how much damage we have done to the world in my lifetime alone, and over twenty years later there are tears as see how much worse it not only has become but continues to be so. I cannot have children, but seeing the world through my nieces and how attached they are to electronic gadgets. When I took them to them outdoors to a botanical garden for a treasure hunt they did not stop once to wonder at the world around them as I did as a child and would make such a hunt take last twice as long as asked a hundred and one questions. Sadly instead they were glad to reach the end, hoping to be given money as a well done, and only slightly satisfied by a free cookie instead.

Freddie Mercury and Brian May of the band Queen wrote a song over thirty years ago called ‘Is this the world we created’, the lyrics still prick as poignantly as it did then and is as relevant and fresh as if it was written today. Thirty years from now will the images of some plants, animals, and people be contained only on websites and cloud servers as seized to exist in the real world. Children at present are discouraged from climbing trees or playing in mud for dangers we have created that were there before but now we feel the need to protect them from. There are bigger dangers out there from our fellow humans than than those from nature, which we turn a blinder eye to those. Sadly many children now will never understand the magic of sitting on the branch of a tree and watching the clouds above float on by as daydream of dragons taking them travelling on its back. In many ways we are stealing from the next generations and robbing them of what we had. Yes, life has changed in many ways we could never of imagined when I was born nearly four decades ago but we need a balance. This electronic brave new world is no replacement for the real thing, nature is part of us and that is an artificial extension to it not a full replacement. So lets make 2018 the re-connection year and not a further step towards a final divorce from our friends of fur, feather, and wood.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

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I wear a white poppy

I do not wear a red poppy as is my choice, no I am not being disrespectful to the dead. The red poppy makes me feel like I have a bullet wound upon my chest with its blood pouring out upon the streets as I walk in a strange empathy with those that fell on foreign streets and fields near and far, then and now. Everyone should be free to remember and mark this day in their own way, united in our respect the dead.

I do not wear a red poppy as it does not remind me of all the victims of war. We stop for two minutes silence remembering our fallen armed forces that give their lives but what of the innocent unarmed civilians killed or maimed in the name of war? If it symbolised our sorrow and regret to all that lose their lives in wars (i.e. all nationalities, armed forces and civilians alike) and not a select few, then I may wear a red one.

I do not wear a red poppy as war is painted with in history and the media as a heroic sacrifices and violence is necessary but it is really cruel, bloody and inglorious. How many of the armed forces return from their service changed forever by what they have experienced? Do we respect and honour those return from killing or maiming another human being, but lose part of themselves and/or forever haunted by their experiences?

I do not wear a red poppy as it is not only humans beings that have given their lives in war’s name but animals too. During World War I, dogs and pigeons were used to deliver messages between frontline trenches and further afield. Horses, donkeys and elephants have been used as beasts of burden. Today, animals continue to be used, for example to detect explosives. We rely on them so much but how soon we forget their aid.

I wear a white poppy as it is a symbol of the belief that there are better ways to resolve conflicts, and embodies values that reject killing fellow human beings for whatever reason. Over a hundred years ago the ‘war to end all wars‘ began and yet we still see wars around the world, but I dream on of peace.. Why a white poppy chosen to symbolise this nobody is certain but it wasn’t intended to compete with the red one, only to be different from it.

© Fi S. J. Brown

A message to all on Planet Earth

Take away these our tears hidden deep from within,

Let them rain down on our faces like drops on leaves.

Please release their power, pain, fear and sadness,

From pains past that leave scars that only we know.

Stop the endless wars with streams of bloody hate,

Replace with rivers of love to flow between us all.

Note it is not to some divine being we ask this of,

But each other across the world, wherever we are.

Here is our white flag and hear our united words,

Enough, peace on Earth, to life that calls it home.

© Fi S. J. Brown

The song of war

On this the 11th day of the 11th month I think of those that have given their lives physically and mentally in the name of war. Generations old and young lost in rivers of blood that flowed through Flanders Field and continue to this day. It is not only the fallen to think of but those that returned and replay the events in their minds unable to comprehend how and why.

The picture shows many crosses: I wrote one for Mr Glasgow, a childhood neighbour and prisoner in Japan that could not tell me of the horror he saw and heard; I also wrote one for my great uncle George that documented Africa through the lens of his camera with images of sadness and happiness; and finally I wrote one for the innocent bystanders that are nameless but not forgotten that war’s name has taken from their families.

A dreamer and ponderer I may be but I do not want to hear war’s red song, singing it as though it was glorious feels quite wrong. However, I thank those men, women, children and animals the song has called their name, those that returned only to be haunted by it, and those right now live in fear of his song. I hope one day you and I may sing the white song of peace.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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The Dodo

Many now know the Dodo is long dead,
But do not know it was what he was fed.
The diet of fish, chips and mushy peas,
Made him blow his nose and sneeze.

Till one day he blew a bit too hard,
He flew clean across the backyard.
Landing on bum with a great thump,
And let out an enormous loud grump.

If he had only landed on his two feet,
He then may not be under concrete.
For his bum landed upon an old nail,
Alas there was noone to hear his wail.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Material world

We live in a material world but seems like at times we forget what sort of fabric it is made from. It is not about how much money we do or do not have, the phones or computers we use, whether we own or rent our property, the cars we drive. Money may open doors but can lead us down blind alleys not wide open spaces to create something distinctly new and unique.

The real material of this world is in its diversity; a patchwork quilt of different races, religions, sexualities and abilities. However, these make up but one square. The forests, hills and rivers with the birds, insects and animals with their diversity make up the other squares. Also we are not the stitching that holds this quilt together, it is the love that all things on Earth share and runs through us all that does.

Instead of trying to undo the stitching and/or add more human squares to it, is it not time we looked at our square, seeing what it really represents not tarnish it with bloodstains and hateful words? Also why do we hurt our own kind or get jealous of others? We cannot trade squares with nature but seems many think that we can and make the quilt to suit our skewed view of the world. Please stop.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

Raise your voice, not the sea level

Today is World Environment Day, with the theme ‘Raise your voice, not the sea level’ for the small islands of the world and climate change.

Our world I believe has changed in my lifetime as it has yours. Maybe it was being aware by my teens of environmental issues, from CFCs, Rainforest destruction and extinction of animals, all of which I felt were important to be addressed but all too often lost in the bigger story of humanity over Earth’s, one. We have replaced her with our own agendas, dictatorial speeches and songs.

Climate change has been perhaps the biggest story in our collective lifetimes. During my PhD I discovered changes both natural and human driven 2000 years ago, so the current changes to the environment and climate interest me on many levels. I care passionately about this world of ours and share with so many others beautiful species from cyanobacteria to plants and animals.

I am not going to say if I’m a sceptic or accepter of climate change, but we must remember that every action we do has a ripple or domino effect. In considering the impact of change we need to consider all life that live on that island and respect it, if that means listening for example to the native women, that’s what we do, and not put our size 9s and master hat thinking we know the solution.

With all the talk of Fracking close to home, many in my own country forget we too live on an island and are we prepared for changes in sea level – no! It takes a special kind of person to listen, so perhaps we should be listen and watch the small islands so they can teach us how and what not to do, respecting their traditions.

© Fi S. J. Brown

World Wildlife Day

What is a life, does one have more value than another? 

The majority of you reading this will be saying of course not. It does not matter someone’s gender, race, religion, sexuality and ability. Yet, if it was animals we would create division, for some they care deeply to others it’s only a stupid damn animal, what does it know. The love and compassion we feel for our fellow humans, why do we not always extend it to all life on this planet? 

If I showed my pet dog on Facebook, some would say how cute he was, whereas others may say they prefer a cat as a dog is too much work. Some may not understand why I would rather a four legged companion than a human one, I choose to have a dog due to their loyalty, love and company being a few of the answers, as for me human company is a bonus and love of another is rare.

If I said cow or pig, many would think of steak or bacon rather than the lives of the animals, what they go through in life to end up on the supermarket shelves and on plates of many. Are they commodities to many rather than living creatures? Are we losing sense of where our food comes from, the cheaper the better, and forget the lives of the animals we may eat in the name of survival.

Elephants or giraffes many of us may never see in their original habitats in our lifetimes, but we may cage them so can see them up close in zoos or false freedoms with safari parks. Yet do these not have the same rights as we do? To enjoy this world with it’s great rivers and forests, where some may choose to make their home. We try to accept what we have, yet our ego wants more.

How can one species act as king and queen of the world, deciding which of our companions in this world has more rights than others? Today is the first United Nation’s World Wildlife Day, how did that take so long to come about and why do we need days for awareness when we should be aware of this every day? Today, lets think of how much we rely on the animals of this world.

© Fi S. J. Brown

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What is this world we created?

Just take a look at the world around us,
Take a look at the forests, rivers and mountains.
Sights and sounds for all our senses,
That we now find ourselves blind and deaf to.
Giving us all that we could ever need,
But we continue to take and take till all runs dry.

What is this world we created?
Thinking we can replace bird song with car horns.
Why do we think we own it?
Selling it’s contents one by one for a pound or two.
Have we made ourselves royalty?
Creating towering palaces of concrete and clay.

You know every day a species is lost,
We would rather buy a phone than protect a Saola.
Animals for food and entertainment,
Their homes destroyed to make way for another mall.
Somewhere Mother Nature cries,
For each day we break another piece of her heart.

What is this world we created?
Thinking we can replace bird song with car horns.
Why did we never learn to stop?
Perhaps we never saw the green light to start with.
What must our ancestors think?
To their legacy that we now pass on to our children.

© Fi S. J. Brown