Silent greatness: the tree

To The Editor,

From the moment it sticks its head through the soil, its destiny is already preordained. The number one task of this magnificent creation is to do all it can to help lengthen the very lifespan of everyone and everything on this planet.

Its life may last one year, five years, 20 years, 200 or 800 years. It will work tirelessly, twenty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, never complaining, communicating with other trees, breathing the air, drinking the water, feeling pain, seeing death coming but not being able to avoid it, standing proudly as a clear-cutter’s machinery snuffs out the life force of something really incredible, our last chance of avoiding extinction.

Apart from its importance environmentally, if it wasn’t for the tree, our ancestors would never have been able to cross the vast oceans to come to this country, homes would not have been built and heated, chairs and tables made, crops harvested would not have been brought to market; fine instruments, violins, guitars, flutes, pianos, mandolins, on and on, would not have existed, not to mention the buffet of food, apples, pears, plums, peaches, nuts, maple syrup, medicines. Let’s not forget we get 60% of our medicines from the forest. At times of war, firearm stocks, not to mention the number of lives that were saved by the trees and those who stood behind them.

I always thought trees are like the hair on our bodies, in its own way keeping things cool in the heat of summer or insulating in the dead of winter. Compared to a tree I believe most of us humans are basically one-truck ponies. I’m serious. Can any of you honestly say that your existence and the job you do make the world a better place and healthier and that what you do is done 24 hours a day and is all-encompassing? I think not.

After all it does, let’s not forget the wildlife, the habitat it provides for all the other creatures we share — yes, share this world with, but if left to farmers, forestry and mining, the creatures are of no value at all, and the world would be better off without them. The one thing planet-killers seem to forget is that for every creature, tree or plant snuffed out with unsustainable farming practices, or forestry, or clear-cutting, our own species moves a little higher on the extinction list.

Recently, 500,000 young people took a stand for the planet in Toronto and millions more around the world also made a statement. It was incredible. I take my hat off to you all in homage, very well done. I just wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you because the very people killing the world have the blessing of the people in power, no, not the politicians, for they are owned and operated by the corporate world:  Amazon, Monsanto, Bayer, Bell, etc. You have to remember, these corporations survive solely  for shareholders, profit and the stock market, oblivious to how their money is made as long as it is made.

A very good friend recently put up two hand-made signs among the election signs. One read: Trees make great neighbours and Trees are for the Birds. They were placed outside Alexandria and were only up for one day and then disappeared. So much for free speech, so much for freedom of thought and expression.

I feel a very great resentment to many farmers in this great province. We are unable to stand up for anything that might interfere with their farming practices, yet the very same people are allowed to destroy our province and planet. Fact: pesticides and herbicides are 48 times stronger and more toxic than those 25 years ago. Fact: farmers are now using 24D, a toxic cocktail with the element of Agent Orange, which when first developed was deemed too toxic to use. One side effect was paralysis and now some farmers are using it to strengthen Roundup because the weeds have become immune to Roundup.

My big question is: are the people using these pesticides and herbicides chemists, doctors, experts in toxicology? Do you have any idea what the long-term effects are on the land, our water and on us when it enters our food chain? If you’re relying on what Monsanto salesmen say, just remember, they are salespeople who want to sell their product. It does not dissipate in the land nor in us. What are the effects on a human fetus, do you have any idea, no?

Here’s the thing: being a human, this planet is my home, our home, and it is under attack and being destroyed by various factions who continue to put their personal and corporate wealth before everything else. We have a voice, but choose not to use it. By staying quiet, we will lose our home and have nowhere to go.

Until we as a people start defining our priorities in relation to life on this planet, and understanding that a caribou herd might be more important than a pulp mill, or agreeing that the ‘Northumberland Strait’ is more important than a pulp mill that wants to put a pipe to pump toxic sludge into a prime fishing area in the Picton area —  until we do this, nothing will change.

As the rest of the world is planting trees by the billions, here in Canada we cut them down in the billions, all with the blessing of a collection of puppets, our government owned and operated by a wealthy few: truly decorative they are.

Clean air, clean water, habitat for wildlife and a healthy environment for the millions of young people around the world who recently demonstrated. We can’t allow this to slip through our fingers, hound your local, provincial and federal politicians, make yourself be heard and seen and take a stand for your home — our home. I’s really worth it; we can’t live without it.

Andy Perreault,

Vankleek Hill


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