Two large poplar trees were sadly felled in our local park yesterday. They had been deemed unsafe, presumably because they sometimes lose small branches in storms. No-one would want a loved one to be hurt by a falling tree, but it does raise the question of the right balance between us and the natural world. My soon-to-be son-in-law, who studied philosophy (as I did) is writing a book on ethics, and is interested in extending the notion of right and wrong into our relationship with the natural world. It is also an area where boundaries desperately need to be set, but are, as yet, undecided. I recall as a student writing essays on “is murder always wrong?”, or somesuch. And while this might be useful for students, it will have no practical effect in the world. But with regard to the natural world, we have not set the rules.
Can we kill as many animals as we like? Can we cut down as many trees? Do they have rights? There is a boundary somewhere, but there is no public discussion on where it lies. If I suggested we cut down one tree in order to save someone’s life, we might all agree. If I suggested that we cut down a million trees to save just one human life, we might all disagree. And yet such decisions are being made every day. In Salisbury a beautiful avenue of trees was cut down to make slight improvements to a road junction. In so doing, the planners made a judgement between the value of the life of the natural world, in this case some trees, and the benefits of road improvements. I am certainly not an eco-warrior, but in the same way that we have to decide what is right and wrong about how we treat each other, we urgently need to decide what is right and wrong about how we treat the natural world. As in the trees in our park. Should we keep some beautiful old trees, and, if necessary, put a small perimeter warning you of possible danger?
As a songwriter, I have never drifted into the area of protest songs. Those who have watched yesterday’s video from the Fripp/Singleton tour will know that it touches on ways of keeping music fresh and “freeing up”. In song-writing that is helped by addressing completely different topics and styles. Maybe now is therefore the moment for me to dip my toe in a new area.
Working title “The space between too little and too much ”.
How many trees is one man worth
We cut them down in case we’re hurt
Who sets the rules, is it you, is it us
If we grow forever the balloon will surely burst
How do we know when enough is enough
Living in the space between too little and too much
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