Issue 8 Editorial

Wednesday 13 February 2008 marked a new moment in Australia’s history. It was a moment of poignant pride that as a nation we could at last honestly and officially acknowledge the devastating and deadly impact of previous government policies on the first peoples of this land. This apology however is only a beginning and, at the very least, these sentiments must be made manifest in a dramatic improvement to the appalling conditions in which many Aboriginal communities continue to live.

From another perspective, Sorry Day invites us into a deeper reflection. Maltreatment of indigenous peoples is also a symptom of colonial attitudes to land. Governments to this very day and indeed most migrants to this continent over the past two hundred or so years had no insight into this land as a source of identity. Sorry Day must be the unleashing of a movement that calls us to become deeply conscious of this continent as the source of our life and spirit.

Reconciliation can only be effected if we, recent arrivals, are open to a transformation: a deep and attentive listening to the ancient voices. This wisdom is passed on through oral traditions but also in the country itself
where the stories lie embedded in the landforms, the flora, the fauna and the seasonal rhythms. We will
never return to the old lifestyles, but if this wisdom is permitted to seep into our souls we will again live lightly upon the Earth and understand that we too are part of her story and we too belong here.

Pete Hay, the feature writer in this edition, is one who has listened deeply to the land and her peoples. “It is surely not comprehensible that people would deliberately set out to destroy the rich manifestations of glorious life that hold the island’s soul”, he writes about Tasmania. If such activity is incomprehensible then we must ask why it is happening not only across the Australian continent, but across the whole of planet Earth.

Faced with the ongoing destruction of vibrant and vital ecosystems, we are also faced with the reality that our growth-greedy mentality truly does not understand that the land has a soul. The inner dynamism of a self organising forest, desert, river system or billabong is what draws the artist, musician, poet and indeed the activist into relationship with land. The allurement of such places is soulful. We need rituals of sorrow and
deeds of compassion for our land if this nation is to redeem her soul.

While Defending the Wild Lands places starkly before us the choice that is ever so urgently impressing itself onto our communal conscience, there is good news about. In an effort to develop mutually enhancing human/Earth relationships there are centres of thought  across the planet exploring the rights of other than the human and the notion of a legal system that takes them into consideration. This re-invention of law and ethics to take account of all members of the community of life is imperative and this edition of the journal does offer signs of hope in that regard.

As an Earth Visionary, Peter Andrews has been taught by his land. Despite the shunning of many of his fellows, his persistence in freeing the land to function in a natural way has at last proved fruitful. In documenting and regretting the abuse of collected Aboriginal remains and artefacts, Jim Bowler suggests that we may yet find a way to build bridges of understanding that can lead us together into a positive future. The Kinchega National Park bears the scars of the abuse of the Darling Basin, but in the Schools section we find young people at work in understanding and developing respect for their river systems, while others are harvesting precious rain
water and using other technologies to reduce energy consumption.

Earthlink continues to explore the spirituality that gives rise to expressions of personal commitment in taking time to simply enjoy the life of one’s garden or, on a larger scale, through emissions reduction in such actions as building strawbale houses. There is more inspirational reading here and I hope the journal gives you an excuse to take time out and reflectively explore your own experiences alongside those of our many authors.