Whilst writing this essay looking out over the sea at Cap d’Ail in southern France, I am reminded of an extraordinary experience in my youth, which took place in a forest near my home in Scotland – It was this incident that inspired me to express my feelings in one of my first poems ‘We are Lost.’ I remember vividly what happened…
As a boy, I would often sit alone for hours in the countryside, watching blackbirds fly, observing sheaves of grain sway to the rhythmic whisper of winds flowing through wheat fields. I revered stillness and sensed a strong connection with nature. I also loved to explore wildlife and the mysteries of the forest, where I would drift into a heightened state of consciousness… Powerful electrical impulses, seemed to flow within me. My body temperature cooled and my whole being would start to shiver – This was the ‘in-between’ world…
On one of these treks, I found myself once more drawn into a surreal space where time froze, nature fell silent, and suddenly in front of me stood a wanderer, who lived in the forest. Despite his powerful appearance, I felt at ease in his presence, imagining him as an ancient warrior, a guardian of the light, someone from another world…
This was not the first time that something like this had happened to me. The wanderer spoke of a time in the near future when smouldering forces once thought dormant, would be re-kindled, and once again expose the civilized world to mortal danger…
What was discussed on that autumn morning, seems uncannily relevant to the times we are living in today – Dark forces gather, civilization is under serious threat and those individuals, who are awakened and aware, have to prepare themselves for battles that lie ahead.
My thoughts wander to images of WW1 trenches and the needless slaughter of human beings, in the prime of life, their potential unfulfilled. I am filled with a sense of the precariousness of life on planet earth, an inkling of something gone deeply wrong…
Far away on yonder’s horizon, I hear the echo of a distant voice calling from a bygone age…
“I think we are in rats’ alley
Where the dead men lost their bones.”
T.S. Elliot, The Waste Land, 1922
© 2017 Bréon Rydell
‘We Are Lost’ is written in an allegorical style. It brings together reality with the world of dreams
A FOG OF DENIAL
The key messages of the poem are that we are being ruthlessly manipulated by puppet masters, who remain invisible… we have lost our way and that we have reached a point where we are ‘out of sync’ not only with ourselves, but our political systems are out of sync with us, and have been like this for a very long time. Many of our present leaders not only fail to grasp the complexity of the problems we face, but they often don’t appreciate, or care about the long term consequences of their actions, which all too often, merely represent a succession of ‘short-term’ inadequate fixes. What are sorely needed are inspiring leaders with long term vision.
We are being bombarded with information that is censored by corporate powers that control the media. We are being de-sensitised to the suffering and violence that surrounds us, whilst at the same time, there is a creeping tendency towards curbing critical thinking in all its forms.
The scale of the assault on our minds is enormous – we have never faced a global threat of this magnitude before.
Many individuals have a sense of unease about the future – at the same time nature is under threat, and modern society survives in a virtual stupor in what can best be described as a parallel universe. We need to focus on defending our freedom of thought, strengthening our bonds with nature and safeguarding our precious heritage for future generations.
BOWMONT FOREST, SCOTLAND – WORDS OF WISDOM FROM THE GUARDIAN OF THE LIGHT
“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” Henry David Thoreau.” (1817-1862)
The wanderer suggested that many of the things we observe, that we think are real, are, in effect, illusions… He spoke of his love of nature and of the gift of life, of the importance of not blindly following the crowd, of not rushing to judgement, be discerning, and to have the courage to be true to yourself and to know what truly lives within us…
This brief and mysterious meeting, had captured my imagination. After he disappeared, I remained transfixed for a while, thinking about what had been said to me. Who was this person? Was he real? Someone from another dimension? Or was he a figment of my imagination? On returning home, I told no one of the encounter. This was to be my secret. However, deep within my consciousness, a spark ignited and the seeds of this experience, would ultimately surface to form the basis of a poem that I composed some years later, entitled ‘We are Lost.’
‘WE ARE LOST
I used to think of other lands, escape reality in dreams
From drifting snow to shaping sands, a melody within a stream
And then I met a ragged man, who stopped and asked me for the time
And since that day my life has changed, my childish thoughts put to one side
We are lost from the first breath we gasp, ruled by the games of an uneven mass
We are lost in a great human chain, scared by our failures and trapped by our shame
I see you judge me by my clothes and that you put me through your trial
I’m everything you’ll never know, I’ve everything that I desire
And as I watched him walk away along the twisting turning road
There were no words for me to say, there was no place for me to go
I feel so helpless, so confused, that we can laugh at times abuse
The different colours, changing styles, the indoctrination of a child
To tell the truth I feel afraid, it was so easy in the crowd
And when my friends find I have changed, I’ll wait for them to put me down
We are lost from the first breath we gasp, ruled by hypocrisy devious hands
We are lost in a great human chain, where selfish behavior ignorance apathy reigns…
ROOTS THAT GO DEEPER
The wanderer represents an archetypal figure, commonly found in world literature. The brief conversation I had with the beautiful man in the forest, was an epiphany of sorts, which stimulated a series of thought – provoking ideas that are expressed in the following stanzas:
‘All the kings horses and all the kings men…
A FRAGMENTED SOCIETY CANNOT EASILY BE RECONSTITUTED
• Childhood dreams, the changing seasons and listening to the music of nature. • The integration of fragmented parts of the psyche. • Leaving the infantile stage of life and accepting adult responsibilities. • Rights of passage. • Realising one’s authentic self. • Entering another world – altered states of consciousness
• “Our lives are mere flashes of light in an infinitely empty universe. In 12 years of education the most important lesson I have learned is that what we see as “normal” living is truly a travesty of our potential. In a society so governed by superficiality, appearances, and petty economics, dreams are more real than anything in the “real world”. Dominic Mallory (1984-2008) Singer, lyricist.
THE POWER OF HIDDEN PATTERNS – We are born into power systems that are by nature tribal – they are systems based on power, control and domination
In the midst of an astonishing pace of advancing technology, ordinary citizens are often no longer free-thinking and independent individuals. They are subject to manipulation by unseen forces that constitute an ‘invisible government,’ which is the true ruling power. How have those ‘devious hands’ arisen? The answer lies in sociological trends that arose early in the twentieth century, notably championed in the United States by Edward Bernays (1891-1995).
“We are governed, our minds are moulded, tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.” (Bernays, E., Propaganda, 1925).
The refrain expresses the potential helplessness of the citizen who is struggling to maintain individuality in an environment in which global market forces not only reign supreme, but are often no longer responsive to the basic needs of the population.
‘Although we feel we are free, in reality we – like the politicians – have become slaves of our own desires.’
(Adam Curtis, in BBC Documentary,’Century of the Self,’ 2002).
“Do not judge me by my appearance.” Superficial appearances can readily mislead and be misinterpreted.
An awakening of sexuality and consciousness – innocence, vulnerability and nakedness exposed.
“He is richest who is content with the least; for contentment is the wealth of nature.” (Socrates, 469-399 BCE).
The references to ‘the different colours, changing styles and the indoctrination of a child’ allude to religious ideology embedding hatred into young impressionable minds with the end result of crimes against humanity and violence within inter-societal systems.
How we ridicule the outsider, and others who don’t fit the norm.
Tolerance, mutual respect, love and understanding are keys to a more harmonious future.
THE WAY AHEAD – FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
I am only too aware that by challenging the status quo, the way ahead is not going to be easy. In particular, the egocentric behavior exhibited by large sections of the population, poses a serious existential threat to the planet and all who inhabit it. Yet, a sense of denial prevails in so many quarters. There is also bound to be resentment of criticism and stubborn refusal to change, especially where vested interests are threatened… In order to build a successful platform for a healthier scenario ahead, its foundation needs to be grounded upon a full understanding of previous human experiences.
A major cultural/paradigm shift is needed to meet the challenges that we face.
In many quarters of the globe, there is an increased awareness of the need for us to accept greater responsibility for protecting the environment and the planet’s habitat. Arising from this, are remarkable examples of philanthropic activism directed towards conservation of the planet.
“Despite all that is positive about human civilisation and technological advancement, our withdrawal from nature is proving to be our undoing. It manifests in accelerating rates of extinction, habitat loss, and destruction, conflict, food and water insecurity, extreme poverty, anxiety – the list goes on. There is only one solution – Biophilia – literally…’LOVE OF LIFE ‘ … a call to treasure nature because of its intrinsic beauty and because it is part of us, and us of it.”
(Jessica Sweidan, 2014, Biophilia, The Way of Life, Synchronicity Earth).
ADVOCACY FOR ANIMALS
“Each year 60 billion land animals, and 1,000 billion marine animals are killed for our consumption. A massacre unparalleled in the history of humanity, it poses a major ethical challenge to our society: the consumption aggravates hunger in the world, causing ecological imbalances.
Not happy to use animals for food, we also use them for mercenary reasons: wildlife traffic, scientific research, or simple entertainment…
Has the time not come to consider them not as inferior animals but as our “fellow citizens” in this land? We live in an interdependent world where the fate of every being, whatever it is, is intimately linked to that of each other.
There is no moral justification for imposing unnecessary suffering or death to anyone.”
Matthieu Ricard (1946-) French writer, geneticist, humanitarian.
THINK EAT SAVE – FOOD WASTE FACTS
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY 5 JUNE
The impact of food waste is not just financial. Environmentally, food waste leads to wasteful use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides; more fuel used for transportation; and more rotting food, creating more methane.
Roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes — gets lost or wasted.
Every year, consumers in rich countries waste almost as much food (222 million tonnes) as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
The amount of food lost or wasted every year is equivalent to more than half of the world’s annual cereals crop (2.3 billion tonnes in 2009/2010).
Food loss and waste also amount to a major squandering of resources, including water, land, energy, and labour.
In developing countries food waste and losses occur mainly at early stages of the food value chain and can be traced back to financial, managerial and technical constraints in harvesting techniques as well as storage –and cooling facilities. Thus, a strengthening of the supply chain through the support farmers and investments in infrastructure, transportation, as well as in an expansion of the food –and packaging industry could help to reduce the amount of food loss and waste.
In medium- and high-income countries food is wasted and lost mainly at later stages in the supply chain. Differing from the situation in developing countries, the behavior of consumers plays a huge part in industrialized countries. Moreover, the study identified a lacking coordination between actors in the supply chain as a contributing factor. Farmer-buyer agreements can be helpful to increase the level of coordination. Additionally, raising awareness among industries, retailers and consumers as well as finding beneficial use for save food that is presently thrown away are useful measures to decrease the amount of losses and waste.
In the United States 30% of all food, worth US$48.3 billion (€32.5 billion), is thrown away each year. It is estimated that about half of the water used to produce this food also goes to waste, since agriculture is the largest human use of water. (Jones, 2004 cited in Lundqvist et al., 2008).
United Kingdom households waste an estimated 6.7 million tonnes of food every year, around one third of the 21.7 million tonnes purchased. This means that approximately 32% of all food purchased per year is not eaten. Most of this (5.9 million tonnes or 88%) is currently collected by local authorities. Most of the food waste (4.1 million tonnes or 61%) is avoidable and could have been eaten had it been better managed (WRAP, 2008; Knight and Davis, 2007).
In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions.
Global Food Losses and Food Waste – FAO, 2011
The environmental crisis: The environment’s role in averting future food crisis – UNEP, 2009
SPARKS THAT KINDLE FIRES
“ Such stuff as dreams are made on.” ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest.
It is my earnest belief that the positive altruistic trends, given time, can both inspire and help rekindle the spiritual transformation that is needed to both unite us and help us win the battle against the deeply embedded destructive forces that have led to the disintegration of so many facets of present-day society.
In much of the developed world, the moral teachings handed down to us through the cultural traditions of previous generations, have been seriously weakened by the imposition of state-controlled bureaucratic systems, which have been set up to dominate all aspects of life. This holds true both for societies managed by totalitarian- as well as by capitalist-based governments, since, in their present forms, each represents a hierarchical system that ultimately exercises its power by controlling the individual.
In this dystopian setting, the limitless quest to satisfy personal desires, has become a virtual addictive pastime in countless peoples’ lives. It has replaced the need to consider any obligation or duty toward fellow beings or society.
A VISION OF AN ALTERNATIVE FUTURE
“… from one drop of water merged another, then another, riverbanks broke, tides turned, whilst great ships sailed in unison to save planet earth.”
New maps are being drawn which offer the potential to explore the deeper undercurrents of our being, and to help identify the hidden patterns and dynamic forces that control and influence human behaviour. By understanding these, it may be possible to identify alternative models for a new way of living in which humans can exist in harmony with the natural world. We need to crystallise a vision of this alternative future – A vision that is greater than the sum of all of its parts. To achieve this, would require a re-awakening of the human spirit that will unite and battle the forces of destruction that have gathered and threaten the survival of the planet and our place in it…
© 2017 Bréon Rydell
With special thanks to Luca Artioli, for allowing me to share his artwork, and extraordinary vision.
Musée Océanographique de Monaco
January 16th 2016
Dedicated to the memory of three great creative artists who influenced my life…
Sir Eduardo Paolozzi CBE RA Scottish Sculptor and Artist (7 March 1924 – 22 April 2005)
Bille Brown AM, Australian Actor ((11th January 1953 – 13th January 2013)
David Bowie, Singer, Songwriter (8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016)