Monday, April 24, 2006

On Top of the Earth

My friend Sange, of the Sherpa in the Everest region, has told me the unrest in Nepal is not good for his trekking business. That is clearly evident in pictures of a normally relaxed Kathmandu, now in turmoil. This is a story of Shakespearean dimensions about a King who inherited the throne after his brother killed himself and the entire Royal family several years ago. He now rules with apparent abandon, much to the dismay of those who would like some representation. It is a poor and stunningly beautiful country, whose people rely on tourism big time. I want to go back and trek with Sange, so it is of real interest to me. The Independent has a good synopis here, including the Maoist push complicating matters. And NPR looks at the hidden toll here. Unlike their huge close neighbours India and China, Nepal is a village nestled in the Himalayas, but would like to have some opportunity to better their situation as well. Sange is a terrific man.

As a farmer most of my life, and an avid reader of Wendell Berry and Paul Hawken, I listen intently to the discussion on Earth Day, as it comes and goes each year. Somehow the language of separation gets used to my dismay, as if we were a different entity altogether from nature and our environment. What we going to do to the environment, to the earth, is asked, almost like how we work on fixing a car. It requires more personal committment than that. Fixing ourselves and our "carbon habits" will need to be fully understood first before real changes will evolve. For many, that requires a change in lifestyle, which is a big ask. Very big for some. Tim Flannery of Australia weighs in, as does Grist magazine on the celebrity culture surrounding the movement now. Whatever it takes. We are so inextricably linked together in this ecosystem of survival, that seeing it as anything other than personal is similiar to denying our own existence. As Michael Pollan asks: "what other species can even be said to have a 'relationship' with nature?" Only us.

Bob Dylan is now a DJ, and I can tell you if I can get the programme, one way or another, I'm in. His playlist is something to savour.

Apparently, beer is now a remedy for menopause, but are remedies really needed? I am not a sufferer (some might disagree), so I can't commment. It does sound like another attempt to sell something that is not needed, to fix something that is not broken, to people who can not afford it. Marketing is an amazing profession. Mosquito nets are all that is needed to save thousands of lives in Africa, and what is breaking all the sales records? Viagra and Prozac. Bill Clinton, whatever you think of him, is actually getting something done to make life giving medicine available to poorer people. Is that not what being on this earth on "Earth Day" is all about, helping each other? I hope so.

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