On this day 5 months ago, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris came close to burning to the ground. Five months later, devastating fires have ravaged the life-sustaining rainforest in the Amazon and the bush here in Australia. We watched the timber roof of Notre Dame Cathedral burn as we watched Greta Thunberg give a moving speech about our burning Earth. It brought tears to her eyes as well as ours. She has now sailed across the seas to continue to plead for sanity from politicians and corporate CEOs who fail to listen or act. Our Lady, Our Girl and Our Earth have all fired up. We are burning with outrage and with grief.
Five months ago, the sticky web tangled itself up in self-righteous knots of rage at how money in the hundreds of millions was thrown about instantaneously to help rebuild the Cathedral while millions of people continue to go without. The 800-year-old sacred brick and mortar symbol of Western Civilisation was compared to 800-year-old sacred song line trees here in Australia. This has stirred up difficult feelings of identity, homeland, culture and belonging for all of us.
Unfortunately in the toxic social media age, the profane far outweighs the sacred. This is a pity because the importance of history whether it be man-made or organic should not be discounted, especially in a burning world. I for one am very happy to see the filthy rich coughing up the dough to rebuild an important building – we need them to. However, we also need them to keep the trees in the ground that keep our planet and us alive and to protect important, sacred natural places for the indigenous people of the world whom we have displaced and marginalised.
The sad part is that money is the profane and its owners often only see the value in protecting the human-made sacred. Unfortunately, these billionaires do not know or care about 800-year-old trees on the other side of the world. And the billionaires here in Australia? Well, they’re the ones digging up the death rocks that are burning our planet to a crisp.
The astonishing thing in all of this charred mess is Greta Thunberg. A young woman of incredible poise and passion who is forcing the world to listen to what they do not want to hear. Her speech was given with a quavering voice and her struggle for breath was audible as she fought with the tears she tried hard to hold back. It was very difficult to watch. Here we are witnessing the spiritual and psychological unravelling of youth in despair. For the first time in history we have an entire young generation cognisant of their planet’s, and thus their own, imminent demise. Greta is staring down a future of starvation and climactic upheaval and she is despairing in her powerlessness to stop it.
Her impassioned speech was given at the UN where their own scientific reports have clearly stated that 50% of the world will be in food shortage by 2050. So, to be precise, in 30 years she will most likely not have enough food to eat and her audience know this because they are the ones who informed us of the fact.
Greta is right to cry, as are we all. But our tears won’t put out this fire. It’s time to get angry. I don’t mean social media outrage angry; I mean surround the houses of the CEOs angry. I mean block the driveways of the corporations angry. I mean striking and not moving until the decision-makers start making good decisions angry. I don’t want Greta to starve. I don’t want those song-line trees cut down and I don’t want Notre Dame to remain a burnt-out relic. I, like most people want to see some good happening in the world because I am getting exhausted watching the bad happening over and over again.
Perhaps as we approach the School Strike for Climate on September 20, we can reimagine a shiny new world where corporations and CEOs pay the substantial environmental taxes they owe us and start to rebuild the natural systems they have broken with their mining and deforesting and fishing and manufacturing and burning. Perhaps Indigenous land care can be restored to avoid the catastrophic fires that will no doubt descend on us again this summer due to colonial mismanagement and complete disregard of Aboriginal land care knowledge. Maybe the past profanity of the politicians and CEOs can finally be used to replenish the sacred and stop the psychological dismantling of Greta and her generation. That is the miracle rebirth we need. It is the one we are all praying for.