Image: Fiona Glen

Turning


Letter submitted to Culture Declares Emergency’s open call in spring 2019 and performed in cultural venues across the UK through 2019. An excerpt was published by Harper Collins in Letters to the Earth in November 2019. Find out more about the project here.

Full letter with published excerpt in bold: 

Dear Earth,

It seems strange to write to you, seeing as we are one and the same. I am of you. Many people like to speak as if there is a gap – a difference between human and nature. But I believe in a better human nature. I believe that humankind can learn again to recognise you as all we have ever known – not an enemy, not a resource, not a mythical symbol.

You are, quite literally, our sphere of existence. Our planet, our platform, and our partner, despite the crimes we commit against us both. So, although this well-worn format sets up a strange ‘I’ and ‘you’, dialogue might be the only way our loud little species can learn to build hope. 

It is hard to understand the level of mass death we have triggered. To take in the idea that over half of the tree of life has been truncated. To reckon with our ability to unthinkingly eliminate lifeforms that formed over billions of years. Absorbing this impact is devastating.

At this moment, billions of people are in a state of suspense. Hanging in the imbalance of disbelief and denial, boxed in the rhetoric of nation states which cannot handle the crisis in which we are already immersed. We are in a state.

No government is big enough to take on the weight of a planet – the weight of hundreds of years of industrial emissions, extractions and exploitations. But they pretend to be, dangerously. Now is the moment for truth. It is always the moment for truth. We owe this to you, our planet.  

Still, ‘we’ is not an easy word when none of this is equal. Every people, every species, and your whole being take on the weight of the greedy. That percentage of the population which actively chooses to go on slashing and burning; trapping the rest in these violent cycles. This is not innovation.

No matter what we do, you will go on turning. As a planet, you will survive us, in timescales we cannot imagine. But our disrespect matters. It is a matter of life and death for every creature – including humankind.

We need to take responsibility for pain we cause, to any being in your living surface. We need to start at our source – with you. Our relationship should be part of every decision. Because only when we remember that humanity is inside and not above ecology, can we truly call for justice.

This is not a missive, but a mission. A battle cry against ignorance, arrogance and alienation. All earthlings are siblings, and we have the chance to act accordingly – to act kindly. So, I want to make a promise. Just as you turn to face the sun from every angle, I will turn to you for my truth. And I call on others to do the same. 

With love,

Fiona