Greenpeace are organising protests outside Shell headquarters in London against Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic. Each day different musicians are playing a requiem for the Arctic and it is such haunting and melancholy music. Charlotte Church who is singing today said that the organisation is so powerful – as are all these multinationals – and so any protest feels such a hopeless gesture against the greed of the relentless money making destructive machines.
I had the same feeling last week when I helped briefly at a protest against TTIP. And what’s TTIP? I didn’t know much about it initially but this is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. If, and sadly when I suppose, it goes through, it would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for individual governments to regulate markets for public benefit. What seemed particularly upsetting is that any current bans on pesticide use could be overthrown… those poor paralysed bees how have they a chance? And yet, and yet, it is so very strange as it is in all our interests that there are bees and that crops are pollinated. Is this an example of what Freud called the death drive: the endless route to self-destruction and extinction that humankind is constantly involved in? If it’s not warfare it’s destruction of the environment – people in power or who want power like killing things …either way it’s about death.
Thomas Merton wrote to a disheartened peace activist that you had to let go of any vision of success and just feel that you had done a good or right thing even if it apparently made no difference and who was to know what the outcome of that act might be anyway…and that’s what the musicians and singers outside Shell are doing whether anyone inside hears them or not… the requiem is now in the air and circulating through the world … perhaps the polar bears and bees can hear a faint echo of it and know that some humans were and are on their side.