Introducing Ralph (the puppet Cassowary). This is him sharing my cake and coffee at Mungali Creek Dairy
He’s our trip mascot but he’s a bit more symbolic than just his photo-bomb presence. He’s symbolic of where we live in
Far North Queensland – the great Cassowary.
But Ralph is anxious. Why you ask? Because he’s endangered by the human obsession with a progress that isn’t even really progress at all. http://savethecassowary.org.au/ – this link is useful for understanding a bit about Ralph’s predicament. If you are interested in wet tropics conservation here are some links for you as well… http://www.wettropics.gov.au/volunteering#c4 – some great organisations doing great things.
For me, Ralph the Anxious Cassowary represents three things:
1. What happens when we forget to take care of our world around us – we lose things of great beauty.
2. What happens when we don’t get out and value the world and it’s beauty – we only see things through a television set. The same television set that the mass production of kills the environment that we say we value so much as we sit in front of it.
3. The combination of the two things above that mean we live a life that conforms to the big corporate agendas for us instead of meaningful lives with our own self-sufficient industries and economies.
For example, we choose to shop at major supermarket chains claiming it is cheaper. We don’t really know where the food comes from, but it is now being more widely accepted that processed food is not convenient, because it’s killing us. We save money on processed food but spend more on diet related diseases than ever before.
It leaves us slaves to stay in one place, eat only food that is readily available and the humdrum of lives that depress us and turn us into corporate slaves always “wanting and consuming” and having relatively meaningless lives filled with things that fall apart – which we just work harder to replace.
These agendas mean we cannot produce ourselves a life that was once “normal” – where we had our own businesses and economies like this dairy we visited with Ralph yesterday.
Viewed in the light of the whole of anatomically modern history it’s not radical to suggest what I am suggesting now and say it’s not too late to go back to lives where we valued our farmers, our industries and family businesses.
We don’t have to all live in cities and be a slave to corporate agendas and we now have TV shows dedicated to people who have “sea-changes” and go back to the types of lives we have had for millennia as though it’s something new.
Depression and anxiety and the fear of not being safe are products of a world were we are not valuing who we fundamentally are. We, as human beings, are not meant to live trapped, conformist, “expert-dependent” lives waiting for the day when we “retire” – only to realise that at retirement we have wasted our entire lives waiting for a lotto win or someone to miraculously save us from our humdrum existences.
Maybe more of us need to find our human spirit again and start more dairies, small farms, wineries and more family businesses and become more self sufficient again.
Human beings have been anatomically modern like we are for around 200 000 years.
That means we have had exactly the same potential for physical and intellectual progress for that long. Our ancestors could have invented the car 200 000 years ago, they just decided they didn’t need it and thus didn’t invent it.
Until very recently we didn’t live in box shaped concrete boxes, getting fat on junk food and sitting in front of a TV. We had to move and be out in the world in order to survive and thrive.
It’s bizarre really. It’s bizarre that we view people going back to producing their own food as a way to provide themselves with their own economy and get away from the “corporate rat race” as something radical or as brave (when it’s what we did before our current status as employees).
And yet we don’t view the concept of our “corporate slavery” as radical? You work in excess of 40 hours for other people, buying goods that don’t necessarily directly benefit you, at inflated prices and suffer diet and mobility related disease as a result. You do this for a house you don’t really get to sit back and enjoy and a car you really take out for site seeing anymore or for much leisure either.
We have only been a slave to the corporate rat race since the industrial revolutions.
Even if you be conservative about that and say the last 1000 years out of anatomically modern human life – then that is living like we are now for only .0005% of human history. Can we say we have it right? If we go by the levels are which we are killing ourselves and others with our own self-destructiveness – compared to earlier history, then the answer is clearly…no.
Wow. I don’t think this phase of our history is helping us so much. Ralph might be anxious but as least he knows why!!
We might have lived shorter lives a few hundred years ago and died from injuries that we don’t die from now, prior to the advent of our more sedentary life now, however we also didn’t practice the following:
1. large scale governance that launches wars on such a scale that millions die
2. trash our environment on such a scale that the very air we breath is becoming compromised
3. generate economies that wipe out anyone and anything who lies in their way on a large scale for material goods that are effectively not benefitting us in any real way
The irony is – through this amazing period of human intensification we have done some amazing things – medicines and technologies that have given us a greater quality of life in many respects.
But now we have taken these advantages and turned that beautiful potential into something very ugly and self-destructive and full of self-loathing.
Physically we are not meant to be sedentary, we have not evolved a way to deal with the rapid changes we have made to our diet (preservatives, colours, flavours etc) and now we have longer lives with more disease related to poor diet and sedentary (lazy) lifestyle than ever before in human history.
We might live longer, but sometimes I wonder if it’s a long slow painful death we are living, instead of short but meaningful one as it might have been for my Celtic ancestors in the highlands of Ireland a few hundred years ago.
We used to work the fields or some form of hunting and gathering and were always active.
I’m not saying we trade off longer more comfortable lives for shorter more meaningful (but more painful perhaps) lives – I’m just saying we need to balance out the two and come to some middle ground.
I am so reminded of the scene in children’s animated film Wallee where the entire population of the world is now living in a space station, is morbidly obese (so much so they can’t support their own body weight), lives on coloured slushies and gets around on hover-craft like scooters with a permanent holographic computer screen replacing their view of the world.
A woman is cruising along and there is a glitch with her computer screen and suddenly she can see the pool in the complex. “We have a pool?” she says excitedly, even though she has been driving past it every day.
How long before this is the reality? Why are we so obsessed with some bizarre need to be respectful of each other and not call someone “fat” that we can’t make connections between low self-esteem, being morbidly overweight and depression?
How kind is it to say to ignore what we are doing to ourselves with low exercise, high material drive, environmentally destructively behaviours? It’s not kind, it’s bizarre. It’s denial – which is at the centre of every violent human act, whether that act is directed at ourselves or others.
Hurting people hurt other people and themselves.
Diet related diseases and obesity related diseases rival our increasingly horrendous mental health statistics.
Remember “Norm” from the Life. Be in it. http://www.lifebeinit.org/ campaign?
We used to see these TV ads every night. Bring them back!!!!!
Ralph is anxious because we are destroying his habitat with our aggressively self-centred human lifestyle.
He could go and hide in what little forest there is, but he is tackling this with us. He could do what he has always done and skulk in the shadows, but it’s not safe for him there anymore.
He is getting out there and saying “your lack of happiness with yourselves is destroying the beautiful world you have for me and everyone else”.
Me? I’m accompanying Ralph because I don’t want to live in a world full of morbidly obese mindless people with severe depression denying that anything is wrong whilst trashing the planet and killing each other because they want to own a plasma TV and watch what the world used to look like.
Do I sound harsh? Maybe! I have been one of the people above and I have no doubt I will still contribute to the madness – but I would like to contribute to the madness less. In the process I would hope that others might also wish this (and I know many who are like me who already do).
I think our search for happiness and our high levels of mental health issues are symptomatic of something bigger.
We have lost who we are as human beings, lost our very humanity and replaced it plastic sedentary lifestyles that really have no meaning.
So we, Ralph and I and a few others in the world are getting out there in the world and as responsibly as possible to spread the word. To live a life that isn’t what the advertising companies want us to believe is human– but which really pays the way for a small group of elite human beings while the rest of us blindly following commercial culture like lemmings off the side of a cliff.
There are many forms of slavery and our collective psyches respond with depression, anxiety and suicide (ultimately).
Life is more than your plasma TV.