Still six weeks before the beginning of summer in Australia and the big, slick, shiny city of Sydney is ringed by devastating bushfires. Hundreds of houses have been burnt to the ground, millions of lives lost — native and domestic animals, insects, birds, reptiles, trees, shrubs, grasses, wildflowers, entire ecosystems — and almost certainly some humans too, once the cost is fully counted. For the fires are still raging, and there are more very hot days to come before a cool change arrives.
Yet our newly elected prime minister, climate change denier to the devastating end, is fighting to repeal the carbon tax, even in the face of overwhelming support for climate change action by most other world leaders.
My daughter and I cried as we watched the evening news last night. Not so many years ago, we lived in a suburb where only the courage and tenacity of RFS volunteers with their trucks and helicopters saved houses from burning down. When yesterday’s afternoon sun glowed blood red in a filthy yellow-grey sky and ash dropped on our suburban balcony and the smell of smoke was everywhere, the memories sprang back to life.
The best fighting tool I have is my writing. Yet I’m struggling to find a compassionate counterbalance to my sadness and despair. For many decades, aware of human-accelerated global warming, millions of people have been living mindfully, and fighting and campaigning in defence of the Earth and her exquisitely balanced life-nurturing systems; and yet the wilful ignorance, inward-looking selfishness and greed of many millions of others have allowed us to arrive at the shocking situation we are now in.
I know that despair achieves nothing useful; nor does accusation or negativity. And so I search for glimpses of the bigger picture to distil into poetry in the hope that this might shift the consciousness of even one person in power; buoy the optimism of even one person who loves the Earth and all her life forms.
tear-streaked ashen cheeks —
fires floods tempests — our dear Earth
struggles for balance