The White Man’s Way                                © David Campbell

We have heard their voices crying as the land is slowly dying,
and we bow before the strength of nature’s might.
We have scorned their quiet yearning as we’ve set the forests burning,
and begun our fateful journey into night.
We have built another city with our hearts devoid of pity,
and ignored their fading culture day by day.
We have wrecked and torn asunder, taken beauty as our plunder;
in Australia it is called ‘the white man’s way’.

Through the turning of the seasons we have always found the reasons
to explain our many futile, stubborn stands,
yet the blindness of our thinking sees us obstinately sinking
in the windstorm  of the desert’s shifting sands.
For the thunderclouds are forming in the face of global warming
as the weather fluctuates between extremes;
from a hurricane’s destruction to the Arctic’s ice reduction
we are witnessing the end of all our dreams.

As pollution fouls the water, native species suffer slaughter
at the hands of fools who have no thought or care
for a future we should cherish because we, as well, could perish
in the suffocating smog that chokes the air.
For a coal-fired power station, while the focus of our nation,
is a danger to the future that we crave,
as it drains the last resources from our dwindling water courses
and unravels all the promises we gave.

Now another vital factor is a nuclear reactor,
which some politicians claim will save the day,
but the dangers are so many that it’s hard to see how any
thinking person could accept the price we’d pay.
Seeking power generation at the risk of radiation
is an answer that should multiply our fears,
for Chernobyl’s shadow lingers as its silent, deadly fingers
will continue touching lives for countless years.

In our ceaseless quest for glory we’ve forgotten nature’s story,
and we’ve turned our backs on lessons from the past.
In a high-tech revolution we might find a brief solution,
but the chances are the miracle won’t last.
For the long-term consequences often conquer our defences
and create a problem we had not foreseen,
so another innovation is devised for our salvation,
and we never pause to think what might have been.

With our energy consumption there is always the assumption
that we’ll find another way to forge ahead,
that the earth will yield its treasure for our never-ending pleasure
and ensure the human race is clothed and fed.
But there’s no sense of proportion, we’re abandoning all caution,
and we’re pushing nature’s boundaries too far.
We are primitive and savage as we slash and gouge and ravage,
and a paradise becomes an ugly scar.

We have lost all comprehension of the balance and dimension
that has kept our planet self-sustained through time;
now our ruthless desecration and severe deforestation
are a testament to mankind’s greatest crime.
There is so much that we’re losing, and it’s all of our own choosing,
in the sea and in the air and on the land,
as our reckless, headstrong madness brings a universal sadness
at the damage being wrought by human hand.

Is it too late to be changing? Are there ways of rearranging
our priorities about the way we live?
Can we calm the raging weather and decide to work together,
so we learn that we must take less than we give?
Will we see the forests growing and the rivers overflowing,
and the sky a bright translucent shade of blue?
Is there courage, is there passion, can we find the will to fashion
our existence in the way that we must do?

To have any chance of winning we must make a new beginning,
and it brings a burden each of us must share,
or a future generation will be faced with devastation
and an ecosystem far beyond repair.
On some bleak and sunless morning, man will face a final dawning
in a starkly barren landscape, cold and grey,
when a feeble voice will mutter and a wasted hand will flutter
as it writes our epitaph: ‘the white man’s way’.