Grass Roots and Red Shoes

I was amazed at how many people have shared and commented on my facebook post about XR’s action on Trinity College’s lawn, so I thought I would get another word or two in, just in case I’m on a roll. 
I was sorry to see how angry it had made some XR members and sympathisers, many of whom have supported much more spicy actions in the past. Then I realised that the upset wasn’t about the grass at all but what the grass represents. I’m thinking of words like culture, heritage, birthright, tradition and inheritance. I saw how long we have been in capture and famine within a deteriorating culture that is destroying both us and the natural world. I say “capture” because my first reaction to the digging up of the lawn was dismay. I was captured in the belief that revered establishments like Cambridge University would be holding themselves to the high standards they teach, and “famine” because whilst we may have a high degree of quantity available to us, our lives are starving for quality: consider the high rates of suicide among young men, the self harm, the loneliness, homelessness, violence and drug abuse that pervade our affluent society.
Bertrand Russell, alumni of Trinity College asks, “Why is propaganda so much more successful when it stirs up hatred than when it stirs up friendly feeling?” A long time member of Green Peace recently told me that XR have done more to catapult the Climate Crisis into our consciousness in one year than in her 20 years of campaigning. The media are not interested in reporting the beautiful and poetic actions that XR take. The media want to stir a frenzy and we allow them to do it.
You may know the old fairy tale about the Red Shoes where a little girl, makes herself a pair of red shoes out of some rags. She is delighted by her resourcefulness and handiwork until an old lady in a gold carriage offers her a rich life of plenty. The girl steps into the golden carriage and gets a new pair of beautiful, red leather shoes. However, they dance her day and night until, exhausted and tortured, she begs the axe man to cut off her feet, which he does. Listen to this ancient message because we are the little girl, abandoning our instincts and natural resourcefulness and stepping into the golden cage, being complicit with the establishment, becoming wage slaves and never ceasing in our busy-ness. The old lady represents the repetition of a single value, that of continual increase and wealth. The axe man is at the foot of the tree but we still have time to recover our strength and resourcefulness, to recognise the traps and cages we are caught in, and to become aware of the things we value most before the earth and our one chance at life is felled and turned into ashes. Hold your nerve. The repairable damage to a bit of grass is a small sacrifice to pay in the struggle to make people aware that we are heading towards an earth that is too hot for habitation.

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