There was once a mountain, and if you stood on top of the mountain at dawn, you could see the most beautiful sun rising over an incredible land, full of grace, full of peace and meaning. On the plains between you and the sunrise, however, there was a great black barrier, acting like a huge hedge, full of people fighting, tearing at the Earth’s resources, acting selfishly. It was clear that the barrier blocked any possible road to the sunrise, and this dampened the hope that one day you might be able to live in that beautiful place, and share it in peace with others.
Everyone on the mountain saw the sunrise, but everyone saw the barrier, too. Some started to walk towards the sun, but they soon fell under the shadow the barrier cast, and began to be influenced by its ways until they were behaving like those in the barrier, becoming absorbed in their own survival and their own needs and pleasures, forgetting the sunrise. Some remained on top of the mountain, creating great theories about how to overcome the barrier. "If only everyone would give up sin we would all be in paradise now", they said, or "If only people would rise up and eliminate capitalism these problems would disappear", or (more recently) "If only humans would catch some terrible disease and die, nature would restore itself to paradise". They wrote about their philosophies, and attracted followers who sat on the mountain with them – but the barrier remained in place.
Over time, however, growing numbers of people saw the sunrise, saw the barrier, and decided to walk towards it, holding onto the memory of the sunrise and the beautiful land beyond just that little bit more firmly, knowing in their hearts that they could not go on living without the sun, without love. As they walked, the barrier became larger, blocking out the sun for longer each day. When they started to get close to it, they could see that the barrier was made of a mass of separate barriers, called Hunger, War, Injustice, Environmental Devastation, Ignorance, Greed, Hatred, Cruelty, and so on. But they kept on walking – for there was nowhere else to go. Now because each person had only two feet, and because it was physically impossible to be in more than one place at a time, people started walking towards that small part of the barrier they felt attracted to, until they found themselves standing next to a piece of the barrier called ’ozone depletion’, ’kids who know nothing about nature’, or ’poverty in the Chicago slums’.
And so they started working away at that part of the barrier, remembering the sunrise, and learning all they could about the area, working to overcome the barrier in that particular place. After a short while, they sometimes became so immersed in the tiny piece of the barrier where they were working that they became overwhelmed by the difficulties, and began to feel depressed at the scale and complexity of it all. When this happened, someone working nearby would come over to give them encouragement, and tell them what a good job they were doing, which made it possible for them to continue some more. Then gradually, they began to realize that they were slowly getting on top of whatever it was they were doing, and that if they bent this bit of the barrier this way, and tied that bit back, fixed those bits together and untangled those other bits, it was possible to remove the barrier bit by bit, and work a way through to the sun.
At this point, however, they remembered that they were only working on one tiny piece of the barrier, just six feet wide, and that there was so much more to be done. How ever would it be possible to transform the whole barrier? And then they remembered that on either side of them there were many other people, fifty thousand on one side, fifty thousand on the other, each looking after their own six foot section. And they knew that together, it was possible to transform the entire barrier, and open the land to the sun of love.
Guy Dauncey is author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Climate Change” and President of the BC Sustainable Energy Association. Visit his website at: www.earthfuture.com