When we no longer shudder at the ecological warning calls of science, the only voice left that can awaken us belongs to the poets. To hear that voice is to hear the language of the soul.
Author and activist, Ian McCullum shares how we are impacting our environment and what we need to do as a human race to reverse the negative effects of over-population and our lack of care towards the planet.
McCallum is a psychiatrist, analytical psychologist and a specialist wilderness guide. A former rugby Springbok, he is a director of the Wilderness Foundation, a trustee of the Cape Leopard Trust and the author of multiple publications including two anthologies of wilderness poems: Wild Gifts(1999) and Untamed (2012).
His book – Ecological Intelligence: Rediscovering Ourselves in Nature – won the Wild Literary Award at the World Wilderness Congress in 2009. An adjunct professor at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, his academic interests focus on evolutionary biology, conservation psychology and environmental ethics. In 2012, together with friend and journalist, Ian Michler, he completed a five-month, 5000 km journey through six southern African countries, walking, cycling and kayaking to highlight the importance of trans-frontier/corridor conservation.
“We have to stop speaking about the Earth being in need of healing. The Earth doesn’t need healing. We do. It is our task to rediscover ourselves in Nature. It is an individual choice. We either continue to believe that someone or something else will rescue us, show us the easy way, or even take the hard path on our behalf, or we choose the opposite – we take it upon ourselves. We take the hard path, each one of us in our own way and we do it gladly. And where does that path begin? It begins exactly where we are right now, when we look up at the world as a mirror, when we discover that our sense of freedom and authenticity is linked to the well being and authenticity of others – including the animals, trees and the land.”
“Strictly speaking there is no such thing as human nature. There is only Nature and the very human expression of it. To understand this is to understand the significance of what we need to do if we are to restore the lost balance. Our task is not to get back to Nature but give back to Nature. How about half of our hearts, half of our language and our thoughts? How about half of our land? Nature needs it and Nature will give back.”“Whose permission are we waiting for to enter that ‘uncertain ground’ where the voice of our wild relative can be heard? How long is it going to take to acknowledge that there is indeed a menagerie within each of us … a wolf, a hyena, a lion … a wild man and a wild woman?”
“Wildness has been confused with savagery. To distance ourselves from and worse, to deny our wild ancestry is to witness its return in all manner of savage outbursts. Wildness is ‘hard wired’. It is part of the essential survival and emotion-charged expressions of curiosity, territory, lust, nurturing, fear and rage as well as the spontaneity of play.”“Our survival is in our own hands. We are the masons of the way we think. We can say yes and no. Take care. And be kind … we are all fighting a fierce battle.” – Ian McCallum