I read with great sadness about the death of a 29 year old mother killed by her two year old in a Walmart store in Idaho. The immediate loss is bad enough but the ensuing years will be long and hard for many. This child will never be a normal human being, it is unlikely ever to come to terms with killing one of its parents. Will the father be able to bring up the child? Will the parents of the mother ever be able to forgive the child? What will the lives of the siblings be like and how will they feel towards the one that killed their mother? This is a tragedy that will span years, decades even. Several, if not many people’s lives have been changed forever.
I like to try and keep an open mind and therefore for me I try to ask Why, How, Where, When, What and Who to any bit of information that I receive. I think, and that is a dangerous concept in some circumstances, that we don’t teach children these fundamental questions. Our global education systems or alternative dogmas teach us at an early age to accept what we are told and fill us fall of facts that suit that nation or part of the world. We will only be free as individuals, and there are many who don’t want us to be, when every child can grow up and make a critical analysis of the information being presented to them. So for all you adults that read blogs here is a photo and a question to stir your grey cells. I took this photo on a sunny Saturday morning in October 2013 in Switzerland with autumn on its way and winter already pushing the temperature down. On a bush that had long since flowered there were many Red Admiral butterflies. On the Friday night it had rained and on the Saturday morning the sun came out and all the butterflies arrived to presumably feed and create 2014’s generation. So the question is “What” became of the butterflies and all those carbon, nitrogen and oxygen atoms and the water molecules amongst the other elements that make up these delicate but complex and beautiful creatures? What happens to the electrical energy that drives their tiny movements? Perhaps your explanation or belief is one of science or a more simplistic religious one in that God just puts the butterflies away for winter. For me the components of the butterflies were recycled and are now something else. They were something else before and will be something else again as we are ourselves will be. Some philosophical questions, some food for your thoughts. Copyright Paul Andrews and Caroline Schmutz, Junagarh Media, http://www.junagarhmedia.co.uk .
OK, so if you are into bland super luxury corporate 5 star hotels where the local staff are dressed up in monkey suits this place is not for you. In fact stay away 🙂 This a fabulous family run pensión that feels like home. Victoriano who still runs it is in his late 80s and is helped by his son, son in law and other members of his family. There are also some long term guests as well as the usual independent travelers so you will meet interesting human beings rather than corporate clones. When we were there we met a German woman who must have been in her 60s and whom two or three days had been riding horses in the snow very high up in the Andes. So if you think for yourself try out the Hotel Victoria, soak up the San Telmo barrio and the rest of what is one the great cities of the world. You can see more of our photography and buy anything that you like on our Junagarh Flickr site or our website, http://www.junagarhmedia.co.uk.
My partner and I have been very lucky to have traveled a bit and one of the places we went to was the Pantanal in Brazil. This area is the world’s largest tropical wetland area. As such it is a very diverse place for fauna and flora. We took this beautiful photo on one of the days we were there. You can buy a copy of it from our website http://www.junagarhmedia.co.uk. Unfortunately, 99% of the Pantanal is privately owned for ranching and agriculture with perhaps 8 million or more cattle now eating it. Such heavy farming is bound to degrade this very special area and we hear so many verbal alarm bells from conservationists and scientists that most humans become immune, feel powerless or simply don’t care. There are some very simple numbers regarding us, humanity, and we can’t face them. So at the risk of repeating myself one more time. When we entered this inter-glacial (and exited what was probably NOT the last ice age) period some 15,000 years ago there were supposedly 5,000,000 of us. In terms of our “clean” water all of them would have been without it. Now there are more than 7,000,000,000 of us and still increasing and 780,000,000 of that very large number do not have access to “clean” water. As our politicians and nations kick the ball of climate change around while corporations and big business stop them aiming for a goal of living within the planet’s means there seems little hope of survival for beautiful places like the Pantanal. Think about the numbers, those 780,000,000 have every right to a decent life so how much concrete are we going to have to pour and steel are we going to have to make to give these people water, housing, roads, schools, hospitals and everything else that goes with our modern life. And it is not as if we have levelled off in our numbers for our global population is still increasing. I personally think it is time for a one child policy for the entire planet until we can get ourselves down to a reasonable number where we aren’t fouling our own nest. If we don’t then in a couple of generations those children will have as much chance of seeing some of the species of the Pantanal as they will of seeing a dinosaur.
I have just finished reading the first chapter of Ben Goldacre’s excellent Bad Pharma, his very detailed account of what is wrong with the drug’s industry and how doctors and patients are misled by powerful corporations and regulatory failure.
This is a photo from a slightly overgrown graveyard in the middle of Oxford. Side by side were two headstones, a couple I think. And in between them a new life was beginning only this time it was in the form of a small tree. All those elements and all the energy that was what made up the two human beings was now being recycled into something else. The complexity of two human beings transformed into something else. Materials from the first and second generation stars that launched these complex atoms across an earlier universe to form our solar system were themselves being reused for new forms of life. Do you think about this? What were the elements in me doing before they were in me. What was the energy doing before it was in me. What will happen to those materials and energy when it is my turn to be recycled? What will they become?