Gaia is the Greek goddess who personified the earth. She is considered a Mother Goddess. Her name comes from two elements. “Ge” meaning “Earth” and “Aia” meaning “Grandmother.”
This name was revived by author James Lovelock in 1979 in his book entitled: “Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth.” His hypothesis proposes that living organisms and inorganic material are part of a dynamic system that shapes the Earth’s biosphere and maintains the Earth as a fit environment for life. A sustainable envirnment for life, and for our future on this planet.
Gaia has been widely held throughout history and resonates with the views of many of the world’s religions.
Cow protection and ox power are the very epitome of the bottom line in sustainability. “Sustainability” has become one of those words bandied about, some may say even over-used, to the point where it’s true meaning may have been lost. Viewed simply, we must find ways to “sustain” our environment, and for those whose lives are intrinsically linked with agriculture, we must find ways of financial sustainability too.
So perhaps it really is time to look beyond petrol guzzling tractors and machinery. Oxen, born as male calves, are often considered a disposable by-product of dairy cows. Yet with a little training, they can provide quieter, totally sustainable labour and free fertilization for fields. In these days of vast unemployment, misery and lack of self respect for so many; perhaps careers in agriculture should be our way forward? Certainly machines like tractors and combine harvesters can quickly, noisily, but efficiently do the job of many labourers, but is that the point? Is it what’s needed at this point in time?
Imagine a bare field, one farmer, wearing earplugs (too bad the rest of us don’t carry them around too) whizzing around on his noisy machinery, belching CO2 into the atmstphere. The cost of this machinery, often in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, also helps keep many farmers in crippling debt.
Job done he sprays fertilizing chemicals onto his soil, many of which have been linked to everything from turning our soil to a salty, barren mess in the not too distant future, to causing cancer when we ingest crops grown in it. The additional liberal seasoning of pesticides creates a toxic timebomb out of our beautiful countryside. Meanwhile at home eight to ten, men or women scour the newspapers and job sites, wishing they could work productively to support their families. Wanting a sense of self respect, community and to feel useful, productive even.
Now imagine the same field filled with workers and oxen. No CO2 emissions from petrol guzzling machines, no earplugs necessary. Oxen are fertilizing the field naturally, so chemical sprays are not needed, workers call to one another as the day begins.
What would it take to create such an environment? Perhaps lobbying government to halt the import of cheap foreign produce that prices our own local farmers into extinction. (One farmer a week goes out of business in this country.) Instead of government handouts, let us help subsidise courses on farming, apprentiships, affordable housing for those who work the land. Sounding a bit like pre-industrialization? You bet. We’ve tried the over-consumeristic, materialistic, disposable products and people way, perhaps it’s time to go in a different direction?
Perhaps even to look to the old ways again. We cannot keep taking and taking from the land. At some point we need to think of giving back, and perhaps helping ourselves too.
Sad, but true.
“The sun…the moon and the stars would have disappeared long ago…had they happened to be within the reach of predatory human hands.” Havelock Ellis.