One morning we all woke up to find ourselves living amid the ruins of a wrecked civilization.
Waves lapped at a crumbling landfill where shreds of plastic poked out. Toxic, corroded materials lay ugly and broken. Scraps of fabric fluttered in the breeze. All taken eventually by the sea.
We saw oil-scarred wetlands and tasted metallic minerals on the air. We gasped at acres and ribbons of endlessly patched tarmac connecting dense zones of disintegrating brick and wood. And everywhere their concrete, stained and crumbling.
Everywhere, their refuse. Seas of plastic, rivers of mercury, atmosphere heavy with hydrocarbons. Vast pits of radioactive waste. And always the hideous, lethal, rusting machinery.
Who were these people, we asked. Who on earth? Couldn’t they see what they were doing? Did they really not know where this was heading?
Forests mown to stumpland, stumpland to trampled pasture. Pasture ploughed to monoculture on chemical life-support. To barren scrub. To desert.
The desert, too, tarmacked over and festooned with mile-high monuments in glass and steel to Ozymandias. Were they insane? They must have been insane.
It seems that every day they raced in monster chariots to work and shop. Every day they extracted, consumed and discarded. Seize, sleep, repeat. And always burning. Not the good fire, the fire that skims the ground, exfoliating and invigorating as it goes, but instead the senseless violent fire that only contaminates and destroys.
They poisoned their air, water, soil and – we had to surmise – their souls. Otherwise, how else?
…and leave no trace.
One morning, we woke and all this was as clear to us as sunrise. As clear as forest scent or cascading birdsong. As pristine as water from a mountain spring. Keen as fresh plucked herbs and firm as a freshly unearthed tuber in your hand.
Because that morning the age-old ethic rang out in our hearts as loud as a bell. Strangely dormant for generations, but now we remembered how every child must be steeped in it from birth, and how every adult is duty-bound to honour and uphold it through their given days.
An ethic which doesn’t have to be spoken but suffuses authentic culture and being. Universal law, embedded in the soul of life itself.
Work with the land, not against it. Nurture nature, inner and outer. Love, play and be grateful together for the privilege of being able to love, play and be grateful together.
In every Tweet and on every 24-hour news channel, from every billboard and touchscreen, from every investor and influencer the same message hummed. It was the morning we remembered words that we knew all along.
Tread lightly, friends, and leave no trace.