Changing Your Mind

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Because there is a tendency for people to become more narrow-minded, more right wing and less tolerant as they get older, I have assiduously tried to do the exact opposite.

The danger of that of course is that you become immune to changes in your own attitudes, even if a change might be intellectually warranted after your life experiences.  I’m still a socialist, I’m still baffled by racism, sexism, intolerance generally, tax evasion and the seeking of vast wealth.  However I’m not against identity cards, national DNA databases, pro-life campaigners – and those three are more recent.

Until 15 years ago I wasn’t in the least bit green. I didn’t eat meat but that was a health choice not an animal welfare one. I still don’t. I wasn’t a tree hugger and had no interest in sustainable fish, deforestation or any other environment issues.  But in 1995 I lived for a year in Northern California with The Grateful Dead and during that time visited the redwood rain forests.

When you put your hand on a tree which was standing when the Magna Carta was signed, smells like Jurassic Park ought to and would take ten people to link arms around it you get a very weird perspective about whether you have the right to cut it down.

Two years ago I went to the South American rain forest for the first time. My mother was from equatorial south America and a visit was long overdue. What I picked up from my mother was stories of tarantulas, scorpions, barracudas, bilhartzia, crocodiles, malaria, tuberculosis and hornets the size of dinner plates. What I wasn’t prepared for wer two things.

  1. the devastating beauty and sense of peace at daybreak being among animals birds and insects in their natural teeming habitat and
  2. The enormous anger I felt when at ten o’clock the first of the deafening smelly tourist helicopters started strafing the area with fumes while their occupants snapped hundreds of photos and the animals and birds ran for cover.

On Tuesday I leave for California again. Heading back up to the redwoods with Colin Hay the insane genius singer from the Aussie band Men at Work. He has a lazy eye so we have one eye between us.  I can’t wait to renew my friendship with the redwood giants, spot the ‘what to do if you meet a bear’ signs and breathe in that primordial stench of untrammelled vegetation. Americans do a pretty good job of looking after their natural heritage I must say. Peculiar then that they are so resistant to signing international treaties on environmental protection.

So I’m now a left wing, idealistic, non libertarian, tree hugging, pro-life vegetarian….what will the next ten years bring I wonder…

Ho hum