Gaia - Our Living Earth

In October 2008, custodians of sacred natural sites and territories from the four continents declared that the whole Earth is sacred. They gathered prior to a World Conservation Congress to examine the growing threats to the Earth and to sacred natural sites. All agreed with Danil Mamyev, a shaman from Altai in Russia, when he said: “The whole Earth is sacred and there is a network of especially sacred areas like acupuncture points around the body of the Earth.

We need a new paradigm for living on the Earth. An alternative to the present paradigm is now a survival imperative for the human species. And the alternative that is needed is not only at the level of tools or technologies: it is at the level of our worldview. How do we look at ourselves in this world? What are humans for? Are we merely a money-making and resource-guzzling machine? or do we have a higher purpose?

For many years, before humanity became aware of the dangers of climate change, Wangari Maathai was advocating the planting of trees. Her work was based initially in her home country of Kenya in order to redress the imbalances created by the imposition of a Western paradigm of progress on a country and people whose inherent wealth and wisdom went unrecognised.

It is that time of the year again, a time when everywhere we look; we find piles and piles of leaves shed by trees. For many urban dwellers, the sheer volume of these leaves and the constant need to sweep and collect them is a nuisance. And that is one of the numerous limitations of our urban blinders. If only we were able to see that, the shedding of leaves is perhaps the simplest and most direct way for us to experience the magic of Nature's cycles.

In the city, every time I put my feet on the ground I remain oblivious of the connection I have with the earth beneath my shoes. The concrete and the thick layer of tar obstruct my senses from going deep down. When I walk, I walk with heavy and unmotivated steps, with a strong desire to reach the destination as soon as possible. The eyes look in the same direction always. The ears are used to cars honking and people screaming.

What do we consider sacred? How do we value it? Can we look at a thing for what it is? Can  political will be reasoned with? These are some of the fundamental questions explored in ‘Taking Root: Vision of Wangaari Maathai’. The one hour twenty minute documentary depicts the evolution of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, from the days of struggle of its iconic founder and its transition into a source of strength for the people of the country through the seemingly simple act of planting trees.

Life is not only rare – life is fussy and demanding. The temperature, amount of oxygen, the alkalinity, the formation of clouds and salinity of oceans, have all to be regulated within a narrow range on earth, so that life on it can be supported. A mindboggling balancing act indeed which we take for granted in our daily lives.

Come back with me into a story we all share, a story whose rhythm beats in us still. The story  belongs to each of us and to all of us, like the beat of this drum, like the heartbeat of our living universe.