What world do we wish to build for our children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, partners and friends, for them to enjoy both while we live and once we are gone? What kind of world do we want to leave behind? These questions present themselves more acutely than ever today, as we face an environmental crisis of immense proportions which threatens our planet, ecosystems and societies.
When we ask ourselves what kind of world we want to leave behind, as Pope Francis does in his Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’, On Care for our Common Home, we are compelled to recognise both an urgent need to act and a deep imperative to rethink our relationship with nature. The former calls for individual actions on a local scale as well as substantial improvements to our legal, political and economic systems. The latter, on the other hand, calls for a better scientific understanding of our place within a highly complex ecosystem, but also – crucially – for a moral and spiritual reassessment of our role within it.
It is the great responsibility of writers, artists, musicians, philosophers and spiritual leaders to guide us and help us undertake this reassessment. They can help us explore – as they do best – our contradictions, our failings, our hopes, and our dilemmas. They can remind us of our emotional and spiritual ties with the ocean, the rivers, the forests and the mountains, and all those who inhabit them. They can help us feel our brotherhood with nature afresh, help us cherish it, in order to better heal it and care for it. Just like a marriage or family cannot be saved by practical considerations and arrangements alone but by the depth of one’s love for each other, so too must we seek to mend our relationship with nature by reigniting our love for it upon the ashes of our indifference. We do so, at least in part, by listening to those artists and thinkers who are the torchbearers of our lives.
Over the next five weeks, the Five One Review will present five texts exploring our relationship with nature together with photographs of the Earth by NASA taken – in some cases – from very far indeed. They will also be accompanied by music by Phoenician Blinds, Debussy, Arvo Pärt, Beethoven and Bach. All these works remind us how beautiful and precious our planet is – and how much we stand to lose if we fail to truly love and care for it.
London, 21 October 2017
Our selection of poems, music and images for the five weeks of this theme is available by clicking on the tabs above or through the links below: