Some people say that the Save Our Water campaign, ‘Say No To Nestle’, is just another ‘not in my backyard’ exercise. You know, like the recent nimby effort in Toronto’s Cabbage Town where residents agitated against the establishment of a day care facility in their neighbourhood? They thought the noise of all those playing children would be just too hard to take. ‘Not in my backyard.’
Well, shocking as it might seem, the Save Our Water campaign IS, it definitely is, a ‘not in my backyard’ issue. We are nimbys here, every last one of us! But ! Have a look at our back yard!
That ‘pale blue dot’, that ‘mote of dust suspended in a sun beam’ – Carl Sagan’s description of our backyard. Yours and mine. Yours and mine, and the backyard of every single created thing. We know that Our backyard is made up of an exquisitely complex, interconnected and finely balanced network of equal and interdependent life forms – each relying on all the others for its own existence. An estimated 8.7 million species share this backyard; only 14 % of them have, as yet, been identified. Scientists say it will take about 1000 years to find and document the other 86%. estimated to share the planet. People are included in the count, certainly – but ‘people’ as our First Nations brothers and sisters would use the term ‘people’ : whale people, bee people, caribou people, fish people, bird people, tree people , and yes, but not primarily human people. All of the millions of equally worthy species whose needs are exquisitely balanced to ensure the survival of the neighbourhood on ‘this fragile earth, our island home’.
A few brilliant few men and women who, through the ages have been able to comprehend the natural world in that way, to envision it as a whole, as a single vital organism, comprising life forms of equal importance – and then to live in terms of that insight – are described as having gained enlightenment. Enlightenment. It is the kind of awakened understanding that have made a Buddha, a St. Francis, a Muhammad , a Baha’u’lah. ‘All things are one thing’, they say. It is the same kind of extraordinary clarity of vision that drove modern sages – an Einstein, a Curie, a Darwin, a Hocking to conceptualize that insight, in their own ways, into the companion language of science. Lichen massage rock into soil, soil nurses seed, seed meets light to give its own self up into green leaves ….. and the process goes on and on without a defined beginning or any predictable ending. It is the kind of evolution of enlightened and enlightening perception that our civilization creeps toward, we continue to hope, however tectonic the pace of the progress may be.
All of us who have taken the time to be here tonight have done so because we are awake to, and moved by such an understanding of the complex, precarious relationships among all life forms. And no one here needs to be convinced that water, water, is essential to every step in the cycle of lives on this planet. Water is what connects us as species – each to every other – and without which we survive neither together or alone. No water. No life. No life at all.
A logical conclusion follows:
Removing from an aquifer water which supports the life of an entire ecosystem, plastically containing it – which entails plastically polluting it – then shipping it out of the system leaving plastic detritus in the guts of the Royal Albatros, constitutes an act of deliberate ecocide.
Here lunacy replaces sanity. Here enlightment shakes Her infinitely patient head in silent disbelief.
But here’s the good news. Very good news. We are together here in precisely the right place, at precisely the right time, for precisely the right reason. Just a hoot and a holler down the road from this very room rests 5 acres of that pale blue dot; 2 hectares of a corner of a corner of a corner of that ‘mote of dust floating on a sunbeam’. And its name is Middlebrook. The Middlebrook well. (Envisioned, perhaps by some, as a hairy -legged maiden tethered to a railway track).
This water in our back yard we can and will protect. We are here to say no to a rapacious corporation that would sell the lives of many to assuage the greed of a few. We know enough to act , and we know enough to know, that we must act now. NOW!
During this evening we’ll consider the new and the old of what we know. Then we’ll determine how, together, we strategically translate this knowing into action.