by Cinnamon Evans
believe that young people know what is wrong in the current dominant relationship
between people and nature. During my work, the young people I meet can
see natures painful wounds and peoples wounds and pain, and
they often suggest to me profoundly simple ways to heal the world. They
see so clearly and know how to act. The natural moral intelligence of
young people is very powerful.
Sadly, somewhere along the path of many peoples lives, something
gets in the way of this clarity, and they no longer see clearly the relationship
between nature and people, and the reflection of natures wounds
and pain in peoples wounds and pain, and vice versa. I think what
happens, somewhere along the paths of many peoples lives, is they
experience their own wounds and pain, passed on from generation to generation.
These wounds and pain absorb them so completely that they are compelled
to repeatedly play out the wounding in the hope of working through the
pain. From within this patterned behaviour, they no longer have attention
for the wounds and pains of nature. I believe there will be little space
for natures healing, until the peoples wounds and pains are
processed and cleared.
People want so desperately to be healed, but there is limited space for
this kind of healing in my culture. We are not accustomed to being witness
to other peoples emotional distress. It makes us uncomfortable,
and we try to stop its expression, with tissues, comforting words and
advice, or distraction. I think what people need is a different kind of
support, someone to just listen with attention and respect, while they
discharge the emotion and heal themselves. Then they be able to think
more clearly about natures wounds and pain.
When I was young I sometimes had trouble breathing. The Western medical
system diagnosed me as asthmatic, prescribed the standard array of drugs
to manage the condition. Later, the Western medical system diagnosed me
allergic, and suggested I avoid certain allergens. I recall an incident
at my friends beach house in Torquay, where the rye grass was in
flower, when my lungs became so constricted I could barely breathe. I
will never forget the feeling of being unable to breath. I thought I was
going to suffocate. I was taken to Geelong Hospital and treated for an
asthma attack. I recovered, but will always remember that feeling.
I now know that I was neither asthmatic or allergic. These are names for
symptoms, not causes. I had a deep sadness in my lungs. In my limited
understanding of the Chinese medical system, sadness is the emotion of
the lungs. My sadness began at birth, when I was separated from my mother
for two days. At two years old my family moved to Europe and I lost my
stable home forever. At five years old my parents divorced and I was separated
from my father. During my childhood years my mother worked and studied,
and had little attention for me. I was a separated, homeless, lonely child,
who had sadness in her lungs.
The first memory I have about being sad and angry about peoples
destruction of nature was in primary school. When I was seven years old
Nottinghill Primary School amalgamated with Pinewood Primary School, and
we all moved to a new site called Monash Primary School. There was a huge
old Eucalypt (Red Gum) in some remnant vegetation that we all used to
play in. I will never forget standing outside my classroom watching it
being cut down to clear the ground for a sports oval. I knew it was wrong,
and I felt sad and angry about the loss of that tree. I never played sport
on that oval because of my asthma.
In thinking about the relationship between my wounds and pain and natures
wounds and pain, I asked myself what I would change first in the world
if I was in charge. My immediate answer was stop the loss of forests.
Then I was chilled by my insight. The role of the forests in the global
ecosystem is to breathe. Of course I want to stop the loss of forests.
I know what it feels like to be unable to breathe.
The destruction of forests makes me deeply sad for the future of people
on Earth. The loss of forest habitat reminds me of my early loss of home
and the home of people in nature. The loss of forest species reminds me
of my early loss of family connection to both my mother and my father,
and the loss of community in my culture. The separation of people from
nature makes me think of my culture and my people as homeless, lonely
I have known about my deep sadness for some time, but it was not until
I thought about the relationship between natures wounds and pain
and my personal wounds and pain that the picture became so clear.
I am working on this sadness, both personal and global, with support from
some people who are close to me, and who are prepared to just listen with
respect. In a supported space I have cried and cried about feelings that
I have no words for, and I know that these are early wounds. I know there
is more crying to come.
Crying is not the feeling of sadness, it is the natural healing process
of the feeling of sadness. I can feel the pain in my lungs easing as the
layers of sadness are released. I can feel my wounds healing. I am emerging
from my separated, homeless, lonely world. I am becoming more powerful.
I am beginning to think more clearly about natures wounds and my
role in healing them.
I am breathing again.