Back to nature

I am all too aware that it is a radical idea to restore and carefully manage nature, landscapes, fauna and flora as fully as possible. As it was once given in Creation. So that even in the western, almost completely industrialized world, we are returning to what was once so beautiful.

My experience in Congo, where I lived in the deep interior, far from the cities, also plays a part in this thought. There was no electricity, no radio, no TV, no device. I came to hamlets, ngandas, which are stilt villages along the rivers, where people still lived as they did a thousand or ten thousand years ago. Ancient songs were sung at the dances. Stories handed down from their distant ancestors. The stamping of the feet on the sand, together with the drumming of the tam-tam, gave a gripping and hypnotic rhythm. When the night was almost over, I heard from my hut a black man singing a song on a proa in the middle of the Tshuapa River. He shouted Oleko', that is to say 'Are you there?'. He called on the sun that would soon rise. That singing in the night was an incredibly beautiful and enchanting experience.

Also, I once saw a dance in which a long line of women, led by a little girl painted with white chalk, moved slowly to the beat of the drums. This was pure magic. When Boende was surrounded by the Simbas, a girl crossed the river with a small group in a proa and they went through the village singing in a file. The soldiers who had to defend Boende emptied their guns into the ground in panic and fled. The rebels were able to occupy Boende without a fight. Several times in the Congo I have had the experience of such magical events that, as it were, enchanted those present. This is the experience that there are powers beyond our control.

The blacks of Africa, before colonization, have preserved the Creation as it was once given to humanity. From colonization and afterwards, the West was imitated and colossal destruction was and is being done. Only a small group benefits from the profits that are made.

The big difference between the blacks in the rainforest and Western civilization lies in the Judeo-Christian foundation. Magical powers, according to the Bible, are under the power of the one God. That God does not enchant us, but invites us to be like Him by following His commandments. All these commandments can be summed up in the commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself. Through love we become equals to the one God who is love.

A civilization without God

Western civilization has unfortunately evolved into a civilization without God. This gives the magic free rein again. Western man has now become enchanted by powers beyond his control. We have lost touch with nature and the natural because of the all-encompassing technology and artificial intelligence. Due to the spell of social media, we are losing the lore and openness to the Revelation of a higher power. The old songs are no longer sung. Stories from the past are no longer being told. We have become slaves to technology, hypes and artificial entertainment without depth.

To free ourselves from this bondage, we must return to ordinary, natural life, trying to be like the great God of love. That slavery now threatens to escalate into world disasters of unprecedented magnitude. We have no choice but a radical change of lifestyle.

We will have to live in a different way. I will give some concrete examples of this because (1) it must not be limited to words and good intentions and (2) it must be clear that to survive as a human race, radical changes are required:

- towns and villages are surrounded by farmland in order to become self-sufficient as far as possible;

- consumption and travel are limited to what is absolutely necessary. As a result, industrial production can be reduced by 90 percent and highways and airports can be demolished to make way for nature;

- people work 18 hours a week, so that (1) the parents can raise their children themselves and have time for informal care and (2) all can participate in 'networks of solidarity' to offer free help where necessary (student guidance, care for elderly and sick, odd jobs and repairs, contributions to biodynamic agriculture, … );

- the aim is to revive local traditions. Cultural and sporting activities are organized regionally;

- the economy is no longer intended to make a profit for shareholders, but to have the means to eradicate poverty and misery;

- politics is no longer a battle between opponents, but a joint project to realize peace, well-being and prosperity for all;

- immigrants who have settled in the West over the past seventy years are returning to the land of their ancestors to take up their responsibilities, restore traditions and manage nature well;

- Europeans continue to live in the region where their ancestors lived and where they grew up. The economic activities are organized in such a way that everyone finds work in their own region.

These proposals are not wishful dreams. Developments in the coming years will force us to do so.

If there were no God, destruction awaits us

Most people in the West have stopped believing in the existence of God, repressing that idea or saying they simply don't know. For most, God does not play a role in their lives and what happens in the world is not influenced by any divine power.

The state of the world is determined by natural developments and by human intervention. We have little or no control over natural developments. This evolution is very slow so that the living organisms on earth have time to adapt. If the sea level were to rise by two or three metres, mass emigration to higher areas would slowly start. After some tensions, a new equilibrium would eventually be found.

Human intervention is of a different order. If a nuclear war were to rage, half of life on Earth could be destroyed in a matter of minutes. The mere possibility of nuclear war makes it necessary to think about a radical change in the way we live and relate to each other.

The past hundred years have seen enormous pollution of the environment and of the air we breathe. Animals and plants become extinct due to the degradation of their habitats by human activities. Planet Earth is being used up as a result of industrial activities and insatiable consumption. In this century, environmental degradation has gained momentum.

We are so easily blinded by innovations in science and technology. Of course space travel is very interesting. Novelties such as the apple watch and the latest smartphone are very tempting. Thanks to technological inventions, a world is opening up for us. Never before has knowledge become so accessible and never before has such a global network of communication been opened up to everyone. And yet we will have to stop, because our planet can no longer take it. We have to return to a simple and sober life, but at the same time there will be an enormous enrichment of our psychological and social well-being.

Many believe that there will be a technological solution to all environmental problems. However, human knowledge is limited and the complexity of developments is not taken into account. Just as every medicine always has adverse effects, every measure that is devised will have harmful side effects. Typical examples of this are nuclear energy, where serious accidents have often occurred and for which there is no solution for the waste; or the windmills that wreak havoc on the bird population and mar the landscapes. More and more people are proponents of climate engineering, but this strategy becomes hallucinatory when we think about possible, unforeseen side effects with irreversible consequences.

The future looks bleak and we shouldn't be doomsayers for that. Without outside intervention, we are heading for a man-made apocalypse. But if there is no God then there will be no outside intervention.

This is not to say that we should invent a God as a Deus ex machina. However, there is the wisdom of thousands of years that has inspired people to do good and to love one another. We can call goodness and love God intervening to prevent evil.

Good and loving people do not destroy anything in nature, are good stewards of planet Earth, continue to care for the people to whom they are related and for the environment that their ancestors have cared for, and they behave responsibly so that future generations also live in peace and well-being.

If you have any additional proposals, please email them to: . They will then be added to this text stating your name.

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   © Juliaan Van Acker 2024