Thursday, January 27, 2011

Back to the Garden

True love in the garden...

We are stardust.
We are golden.
And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden…

Way back in 1969 – over forty years ago now – Joni Mitchell wrote Woodstock in a hotel room in New York City as she watched reports of the events at the Woodstock Festival on television. (She had been advised by a manager that appearing on the Dick Cavett Show instead would be a better choice than performing at Woodstock).

In the intervening years, the world has seen growing corporatization, expanded government control and curtailment of personal freedoms, and with this the accelerating scourge of globalization and marginalization of small-scale, community-based initiatives. The need has become ever greater to get ourselves back to the garden. And, in truth, many of us are doing it, back there, as we see a resurgence in organic farms and foods, local production, farmers markets; we just need more of the same to stem the tide sweeping so many treasured things away in the depleted soils and wastewater of the mainstream.

As a society, we are now another stage further removed from Nature’s way. Over half the world’s population is now urban. Having gone through the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, and a 20th century riddled with wars of massive carnage and devastation from chemicals, atomic and nuclear agents, we now live at the beginning of the 21st century in an age of great upheaval and shifting empires. Synthetic materials and new technologies now rule the roost.

In medicine, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, radiation are prescribed, gradually sidelining all time-honoured natural, traditional treatments. In farming, factory feedlots, antibiotics, pesticides, chemical fertilizer and genetically-modified crops are promoted, as control of natural seeds and lands gets wrested away. In food, sterilization, pasteurization, irradiation, genetic modification are the order of the day for those that control the production and distribution system. In the environment, indiscriminate deforestation, mining, resource exploitation, desecration of land and ocean, and an inexorable build-up of greenhouse gases hold sway. In all these areas, ever more carcinogens, toxins, poisons cause escalated disease in humans, animals, plants, “natural” environments. The bottom line for the western capitalist system is man-made, geared for profit, making some much richer, and many much the poorer. Obscene levels of power are enjoyed by ruthless elites in the form of centralized government, mega-corporations, secret cabals, the ultra-rich, all at the expense of the power-starved masses.

Those who control this state of affairs exercise greed, repression, and perpetuate misery and disease. A renewed connection to Nature and all things natural would help us all to reclaim and recover health, sanity, dignity, meaning, happiness. We need to keep on engaging, person by person, step by step, community by community, movement by movement – without selling out. Change has to come from the grassroots up, as it is very unlikely to come from the top down. Back to the garden, one more time.