Sunday, August 06, 2017

The ginkgos' warning

For the 72nd anniversary of our country's atomic obliteration of the city of Hiroshima, the Chilean essayist Ariel Dorfman offers a haunting meditation on the tough and graceful ginkgo trees which survived at that the blast's center because of the depth of their roots -- and on how we still need their lesson if we are to avoid species suicide.

... as we heedlessly rush into the future with our arrogant machinery, will we ever stop to ponder the consequences? How many species are threatened today by our insatiable desires, our incessant overdevelopment, our inability to measure joy and happiness by anything other than the latest gadget?

The Hiroshima ginkgos, the tenacious older siblings of the tender green trees in front of our North Carolina house, were able to resist the most devastating outcome of science and technology, the splitting of the atom, a destructive power that could turn the whole planet into rubble. Those trees’ survival was a message of hope in the midst of the black rain of despair: that we could nurture life and conserve it, that we must be wary of the forces we unleash.

How paradoxical, how sad, how stupid, it would be if, more than seven decades after Hiroshima opened the door to the possible suicide of humanity, we did not understand that warning from the past, that call to the future, what the gentle leaves of the ginkgo trees are still trying to tell us.

Do read it all.

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