Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop – When the earth is cut

When the earth is cut -  Elizabeth Willmott - Harrop - Live Encounters Magazine September 2014

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When the earth is cut by Elizabeth Willmott-Harrop

Indigenous peoples were one with the land
But the earth on which their ancestors
Played and prayed and slaughtered and danced
Was ripped open by mining, left barren by deforestation

The soul of the community wept
Fought to protect the land and water, flora and fauna
The traditions and culture
Which relied upon nature and protected it
Tribal populations were thrust onto the frontline
Of human rights abuses from misplaced corporate power

“Civilised” societies use genocide and slavery
To steal land, resources and labour
So that progress knows no barrier
Wealth no bounds

Morality and legality were savaged
As we named them savages

They sit on another frontline
That of protecting culture and ecology
On behalf of us all
Mapping biodiversity through an intricate interplay

As languages have become lost
To ubiquitous tones
Oral traditions silent
Which once told of the parting of islands by great gods
Of the splendour of mountains and rivers
Landscapes now plundered and
For sale by the State

The demand for indigenous knowledge is at an all-time high
A marketable commodity
Resulting in abuse, rather than respect

What of triumph among this injustice

The EU fights the “biopiracy” of multinationals
Who exploit medicinal plants and traditional remedies
Without sharing the profits with aboriginal peoples

A landmark ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada
Recognises aboriginal land title
Setting a historic precedent affecting resource rights

Yet injustice among triumph

In 2006, Botswana’s High Court ruled
the Bushmen’s eviction from their ancestral land
Was “unlawful and unconstitutional”
Yet the government continues its persecution

Can the rest of the world learn what aboriginals know
That when the earth is cut, so are we

Imagine a neater way for justice to balance her scales
Tar sands miners destroy the earth’s water balance
An activity curtailed by Canada’s supreme court judgement

Imagine this:
The CEO who ordered the mining operation
The government official who sanctioned it
Has the water balance in their own body destroyed
So they are always thirsty

Their head throbbing unrelentingly
Unable to live without pain

Until they rectify their decision
Then and only then, is the balance in their own body
And the earth’s balance

For when the earth is cut, so are we.

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