thomas m wilson

Spreading the Word

April 9th, 2007


This is one of the most memorable photographs in the history of the Australian conservation movement (thanks to the Terania Action Network). The year is 1979 and one of the last pockets of the subtropical rainforest of the central eastern Australian coast is about to be logged at Terania Creek. A hundred or so long haired hippy types arrive, and for the first time Australians see images in the media of direct confrontations between conservationists and police and loggers. This photo stand out though.

Here we see the power of physical affection to break down barriers. Authority is humanised through love, not further strengthened through the expression of hate. In this one moment caught on film, we see how the ‘pig’ in black and white can become the man with the beating heart. I think in contemplating the issue of climate change today we need to remember this image. Instead of become frustrated with the majority of our fellow citizens lethargy when it comes to becoming carbon neutral, we need to take a deep breath and talk to somebody about the issue you might not normally talk to. Instead of ‘shouting at the idiots for not doing enough’, remember that everybody is, as W. H. Auden said, ‘jealous of their privacy and easily hurt’. Everybody is human. Approach with the sentiment of brotherhood and unity and you’ll get more traction. The best tool in the skill kit of the active conservationist is to find something to love in that man or woman who doesn’t seem to care. And then to draw them forward with gentle prods and hints.

Ok all you young dudes, the hippies who are now in their fifties were right…

one love.