The Tree of Life

September 29, 2021


I am drawn to protests – I find them exhilarating; they form community, develop camaraderie, give meaning and purpose, but most importantly, they give us hope.

Over the years, I have been involved with many environmental protection camps and you need not have visited such places to know what lies at the heart of this agenda. With populist slogans like ‘save the trees’ emblazoned from post to post, to the environmental protester, trees are known to be the single most important, sacred and prized natural feature of our land, and rightly so. Owing to their impressive repertoire, including oxygen givers, erosion protectors, shade and habitat providers: - trees play one of the most fundamental parts of our ecosystem and must be protected at all costs.

Welcome the environmental protester:- valiant protector of our natural world, risking life and livelihood in this saintly pursuit. Unfortunately, there are a great number of folk who would fail to share this view and it’s not hard to understand why. Because let’s face it, despite centuries of uprising, nothing has been able to stop the steady increase in social and environmental issues. So much so, that when we consider the actual successes that environmental protection has offered, it has undoubtedly become a game of small wins and big losses and never was a true word said.

Of the protest camps that I’ve ‘knocked about’ in – a common sight amongst the security guards, the mud and ‘people up trees’, is that these camps are largely inhabited by folk happily whiling away the long under-stimulated hours somewhere up in a cloud of smoke. Smokers of all types, including those claiming to be of the ‘medicinal’ green variety. In fact it is such a common sight, there is absolutely nothing of any particular interest, until you start to deeply ponder upon it’s parallels and then you might begin to see something rather very wrong.

Because you see, there is no one who can really disagree with the fact that smoke inhalation of any sort is one of the most self-destructive and dangerous activities that we can knowingly impose on our bodies today. This toxic substance, starves the body of oxygen, directly targeting and damaging the lungs – who are the very oxygen givers of our bodies, and whose primary function is really no different to that of a tree. The very root of what many protesters are on one hand externally seeking so hard to save, while internally allowing it’s continued destruction.

This is the great delusion of separation, the lack of understanding that the very life giving instruments that we are trying so hard to protect are also right here within us. The most important tree that we can only truly offer any protection lies much forgotten, while our focus remains firmly fixed outside of ourselves. This failure to acknowledge our bodies also as part of the great magnificence of nature:- the co-dependence between the respiration of our lungs and the respiration of a tree, each bringing the other life is perhaps on one level a product of why environmental protesting continues to fail. Because how can we convince government and multi-nationals to care for nature when the truth is we care even less for our own.

People are drawn to environmental activism for many reasons and knowingly but more often unknowingly, ‘nature’ may not always be at the heart of this agenda. But whatever the reason, we are here for the most worthy cause of all – because we want change. We live in a culture of diminished responsibility, casting assertions and laying blame on all but ourselves. But when we consider change, we must first ask ourselves what is it within us that we can change first. Because nothings changes if no one changes so then what better place to start, than where the success is in our own hands.

Be the change you want to see in the world’ Ghandi.



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