- Written by: Kamran Mofid
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The end of isolation feels closer than ever, and our politicians are promising us the return to normal!
An illustration of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) from the US Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention. Photo: AP Via The Guardian
Are You Dreading a Return to ‘Normal’? You’re Not the Only One. I am too!
Be Wise and Be Against Returning to Normal
Normalcy is not something we can afford—we must actively resist it.
Out of the coronavirus crisis, a new kinder and better world must be born
The time is now to rediscover our humanity and our solidarity
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
- Hits: 390
N.B. Not long ago, a few months back, I posted an article under the title ‘Detaching Nature from Economics is ‘Burning the Library of Life’. I would like to recall a couple of passages from it, refreshing and focusing our minds on what I am about to share with you.
David Quammen’s The Song of the Dodo deploys silence as a sign of something amiss in the world around us:
‘We are facing a global crisis. We are totally dependent upon the natural world. It supplies us with every oxygen-laden breath we take and every mouthful of food we eat. But we are currently damaging it so profoundly that many of its natural systems are now on the verge of breakdown. Every other animal living on this planet, of course, is similarly dependent. But in one crucial way, we are different. We can change not just the numbers, but the very anatomy of the animals and plants that live around us. We acquired that ability, doubtless almost unconsciously, some ten thousand years ago, when we had ceased wandering and built settlements for ourselves. It was then that we started to modify other animals and plants…
‘Economics is a discipline that shapes decisions of the utmost consequence, and so matters to us all. The Dasgupta Review at last puts biodiversity at its core and provides the compass that we urgently need. In doing so, it shows us how, by bringing economics and ecology together, we can help save the natural world at what may be the last minute- and in doing so, save ourselves.’...Detaching Nature from Economics is ‘Burning the Library of Life’
Today, whilst researching this topic further, I came across a very interesting and timeless article by a fellow Canadian academic, which truly captured my eyes and imagination. I began to read. It was music to my ears. It very much resonated with me. The more I read, the more I realised that I could not improve it.
I believe it can indeed be an excellent follow-up to my own piece, noted above.
So there you have it: ‘Beauty Will Save the World’, by Prof. Heather Eaton, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, Canada/Via Counterpoint, 30 June 2021
Beauty Will Save the World
‘The official birth flowers for July are larkspurs, signifying happiness and love.’
Picture credit and more: My Poem of the Month: July is the Month Happiness, Purity, Beauty and Creation
‘This famous and much discussed phrase from Prince Lev Nikolyaevich Myshkin in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot is that beauty will save the world. Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrestled with the enigmatic idea in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech in 1970. It is the title of numerous books and articles on classical art, theological/religious aesthetics, and the natural world. Many are mesmerized with this phrase, idea, image, or desire. Beauty will save the world. Hard to believe, yet is an intriguing union of ethics and aesthetics.
‘My interest here is not about art, philosophy, or religions. It is not particularly lofty. It is about beauty, mostly in the natural world, and how it transforms the self. Throughout my life, from a young child to now, (just a few years) the intricacies of nature—the incredible presence(s), and dazzling, deep, vibrant, and dynamic beauty—have often seized my attention and time. I have had remarkable, profound, and transformative experiences within nature. I have trekked to mountain vistas, caves, canyons, and waterways; sailed for weeks in the wind, waves, and silence of the Atlantic ocean; watched whales and swam with sharks; studied elephants in South Africa, Botswana, and Kenya; camped in the African bush and Canadian forests; and canoed wilderness waterways. I am acutely cognisant of these incredible privileges. Further, such experiences are the energy, and companions, and often reasons, that have propelled and sustained over thirty years of environmental work.
‘Of course there are terrifying, exhilarating, demanding, and dreadful experiences of the natural world. Many lives are filled with endless effort to survive, and now, on a diminished planet. Climate change is inducing fires, drought, storms, and immeasurable losses; countless ecosystems and species are struggling to adapt, or just live. It is difficult to offer a reflection about beauty, and how beauty is transformative, without seeming to be callous and uncritical of privilege, or oblivious to ecological stress and anthropogenic climate change. But, in one sense, that is the point of this reflection: to remind us that there is sublime beauty, usually not far, and it can be restorative, or at least offer reprieve or respite.
‘Like many others, my last year has been lived very locally. Attending to this locus vitae (local life) has expanded and strengthened my interest in the claim that beauty will save the world. Where I live (Ottawa, Canada), the seasons are distinct and authoritative, from -40 (C/F) to +40 C (104 F). People have been unable to travel far during COVID times, with severe long-term lockdowns in most of Canada. The consequences are that the outdoor spaces have been overrun with new nature lovers (interfering in the solace of those who savour the quiet). Yet, it is noteworthy that people are ‘discovering’ the natural world. A further discovery, for many, is that birds exist. Birdwatching has become an epidemic, one could say. I too succumbed to birdwatching, with now four feeders in my (small) backyard. And they came: songbirds, flocking birds and couples, solitary Blue Jays, and the bullies—Grackles and Starlings. Another COVID induced outbreak has been backyard and balcony gardening. I also try to grow flowers that provide gorgeous colors and scents, in addition to their ecosystem duties. This brings with it a renewed awareness of the balm of beauty and the vitality of the locus vitae.
‘What is required is attentiveness, quiet, discretion, and observation. Nature is never static. Life is animate. Colours dance from sunrise to sunset. Vegetation bends with the wind. Flowers develop from germination to blossoming to regeneration, always on the move. Birds flit. They are private and uninterested in humans, as are many—most—other species. Insects are busy…’-Continue to read
Related Posts from our GCGI Archive
Photo: Via Sustainability Times
Nature to Heal the World
Yes, its true: We can heal ourselves, we can build a better world if we set our mind to it,
if we let nature to be our wise teacher and the source of our inspiration
Together, We Hold the Future in Our Hands
We must not fail our children and grandchildren. We must do the right thing. We must save the web of life
'Be in love with life and the living and the world will be a better place.'- Kamran Mofid
Photo Credit: Kamran Mofid, Roses from our garden, Coventry, July 2021
- Written by: Kamran Mofid
- Hits: 314
What can we learn from birds, according to William Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Tables Turned’?
Yes, indeed, we can learn how to be wise from birds. By listening to the sweet music of the woodland linnet
or hearing how the throstle sings, we can let Nature be our Wisest Teacher.
‘The greatest wisdom comes from the smallest creatures. There is so much we can learn from birds.
Through twenty-two little lessons of wisdom inspired by how birds live,
this charming French book will help you spread your wings and soar.’
‘We often need help from those smaller than us. Having spent a lifetime watching birds, Philippe and Élise – a French ornithologist and a philosopher – draw out the secret lessons that birds can teach us about how to live, and the wisdom of the natural world. Along the way you’ll discover why the robin is braver than the eagle, what the arctic tern can teach us about the joy of travel, and whether the head or the heart is the best route to love (as shown by the mallard and the penguin). By the end you will feel more in touch with the rhythms of nature and have a fresh perspective on how to live the fullest life you can.’
About the Authors
Philippe J. Dubois is an ornithologist and writer. He has been passionate about birds since he was a boy, and has travelled the world birdwatching. He is the author of a number of works on climate change and biodiversity and was the head of Delachaux and Niestlé, the oldest nature books publishing house in France.
Élise Rousseau has degrees in Literature and Philosophy, and is a journalist and author of several works on nature and animals. She has spent several years working to protect animals.
'Brilliant, magical and engrossing – I will never see birds the same way again.'- Peter Wohlleben, bestselling author of THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES
'A little gem. So much wisdom to be drawn from the feathered world of birds.' ― Raynor Winn, bestselling author of THE SALT PATH
'A charming, witty and thought-provoking look at the way bird behaviour can both reflect and influence the way we live our lives.' ― Stephen Moss (Naturalist and author)
'This little book does a beautiful job of inspiring awe for the capacities of birds and applying lessons from their lives to the struggles of humanity.' ― Wall Street Journal
It Takes a Wise Bird to Show Us the Path
Simorgh: Thirty Birds
The Wise Mythical Bird of Persia
‘In the famous epic Persian poem "Conference of the Birds," the birds of the world gather to decide who is to be their king. The hoopoe, the wisest of them all, suggests that they should find the legendary Simorgh, a mythical Persian bird. The hoopoe leads the birds, each of whom represent a human fault which prevents man from attaining enlightenment. When the group of thirty birds finally reach the dwelling place of the Simorgh, all they find is a lake in which they see their own reflection. They realize that they were the Simorgh (which in Persian literally means "thirty birds") all along. The leader they sought was each and every one of them.’
The Conference of the Birds - Simorgh, portrayed by Attar, The Persian Sufi Sage and Poet
Conference of the Birds.- Photo: images-amazon.com
‘Hundreds of birds embark on a perilous journey across seven treacherous valleys in search of a king who can right the wrongs in their world. They are led by the poet Attar, who has been transformed into a sharp-beaked, crested hoopoe. The troubles that spur them into flight — "Anarchy — discontent — upheaval! Desperate fights over territory, water, and food! Poisoned air! Unhappiness!" — are of course all too familiar in our world.’
Stop, Look and Listen:
Learn from the Wise and Listen to the Birds
How to Read a Bird: A smart guide to what birds do and why
Photo and info: How to Read a Bird: A smart guide to what birds do and why
12 Birds to Save Your Life: Nature's Lessons in Happiness
Photo and info: 12 Birds to Save Your Life: Nature's Lessons in Happiness