People ask me why I am obsessed with words. Why I seem to know a lot about things but at the same time be so clueless about the things that matter. Well for starters, what things matter? Unless we are talking about SDGs or African poverty, I think “things that matter” are very subjective concepts and cant, therefore, be pinned to a world view.
I love people who play with words. Heck, Love could be an understatement. I adore them. The other day I was listening to LSD’s track “ No New Friends.” There’s something about that song that has me playing it on repeat. It could be the unique message sent across by the video.
The video takes us to a world of utopia, a land of paradise, no sorrows no worries at all (I used to love that song in Sunday school). This paradise, however, is dominated by dancing Truffula Trees. Have you heard of the story of the Truffula trees or more precisely The Lorax? No? Okay, walk with me. For those who have, take this as a refresher.
The Lorax is a children’s book written by Dr Seuss in the seventy’s documenting the plight of the environment. The Lorax a mystic creature in the book “speaks for the trees” by confronting the Once-ler who promotes environmental degradation. And so the story begins, Once-ler is walking one beautiful morning in search of fertile land. In his walk, he comes across a forest valley full of the Truffula trees. Up until that point, the Once-ler had never seen a tree with such silk-like foliage and incredible colours. So he decides to cut down the tree and from the foliage make a thneed (an incredibly versatile garment).
He sells that garment to a passerby who pays back in kind. This becomes like an epiphanic moment to him. He gets the worst idea ever but to cut down all the trees and expand his industry. So the Lorax who “speaks for the Truffula trees” confronts the Once-ler. He warns the Once-ler against his actions towards the environment. Eventually, all the animals are forced to migrate. The air becomes toxic, The rivers become polluted from the industries waste. Chaos wreaks the land. Now the dude decides to wake up. Things are going bad. With a lack of resources, his industry shuts down. The Lorax writes on the trunk of the last standing tree, the word “Unless” and flees.
Years later, after pondering over this word in turmoil. The Once-ler realises what the Lorax meant. That “unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” I think by now you get where am going with this analogy.
The fable depicts our current reality. Cooperate greed over the environment. The Once-ler could very well be our industries and the Lorax the environment. We exploit, degrade, destroy all in the name of economic growth. How is that even self-actualisation? I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. It’s a shame that the human mind is only accustomed to change when pain is involved.
Now you might not have felt the pain yet and are probably wondering what am ranting about, but others have felt it. Take, for example, the case of Mozambique and their floods, or the millions of intoxicated children living in India. If you are wondering what you can do to change this, am proud of you. That’s a significant milestone you took there.
My answer to you. Plant trees. Most of these problems we struggle with find their way back to deforestation and irresponsible logging of trees. Planting trees reduces the carbon footprint in the air, thus bringing a balance in the atmospheric gases. A case like Mozambique would have been less detrimental if they had a large forest cover. The children in India would breathe cleaner air.
The Lorax story ends with the Once-ler giving a young boy Truffula seeds to plant and save the planet. We’ve tried implementing the same line of thinking in the giraffe centre with our school greening initiative. We donate trees to schools and monitor their planting and progress. This ensures that the students take on the full responsibility of planting trees and understand the importance of doing the same.
On sustainability, we educate the students on alternative sources of energy that saves from cutting down trees. This involves teaching them how to make charcoal briquettes with the hope that this message will be passed on to their communities.
Wondering how you can be part of this amazing initiative? Join our 1 dollar 5 seedling project, and for every dollar, you donate 5 seedlings will be given to a school for planting. Before you get this twisted, the donations are for buying seedlings. “Unless we do this, then we might as well start packing our bags for the journey to the world of the dead.”