'I Love Love' contribution by Hugh Warwick
I love love. But we have such a diminished vision of what love can be. The writer Roman Krznaric observed that we make the word, love, do too much. We use it for the scent of Spring blossom, for the first swift to screech in from Africa. We use it for our lover - we make love. We use it for our child, and our parents. We use it for our friends - almost carelessly at the end of an email - we use it for our friends as we stumble drunkenly home from the pub. And sometimes - overlooking the sea, in a forest, up a mountain, as I dance - I use it for EVERYTHING.
The Ancient Greeks dealt with this by having different words for love. Eros, the mad, passionate and crazy sexual love. Pragma, the love of getting along with someone after many years. Philia, the love of friendship. Ludus, the playful love of dance and flirting. Philautia, perhaps the hardest of all, self-love. And Agape, the selfless, universal love.
Photo by Filipe Almeida on Unsplash
I would add to this list biophilia - an idea popularised by the American academic E. O. Wilson. The basis of this is that we have an innate need for contact with nature - we are born with a love for the world. It is only as we grow that we learn to fear and dominate nature. The idea has born many dives into research, and there is plenty of evidence to show that we are healthier, physically, psychologically, when we have contact with the natural world.
Those lucky enough to have access to green spaces a year ago were ones to really notice. The quiet as the machine was calmed - and the sound of birds, the scent of blossom was left to go wild. We felt ourselves expand. Well, I certainly did.
Photo by Lukasz Szmigiel on Unsplash
It would be hard to argue that this luxurious necessity should be rationed only to the very fortunate. In fact access to green spaces should be a right - a right that comes, of course, with responsibilities.
When I have been involved with campaigns that touch on the issues of our green spaces, I have often been told that the heart of the problem comes from a failure of people in urban areas to understand what life in the countryside is like - what a farming life is like. Seventy percent of the land in the UK is given over to food production, yet employs just 1.5% of the workforce.
How to bridge this? Well I know a way how NOT to bridge it and that is with the criminalisation of trespass. If you have not already read The Book of Trespass from Nick Hayes, it is deep and funny and reminds us of the oddly extraordinary exclusion most of us have from the wider landscape.
Photo by Raquel Pedrotti on Unsplash
Photo by Owen Lystrup on Unsplash
To create the connection we need access, but only in the context of education. While a GCSE in Natural History is a lovely idea, it is not really enough. It will just give those already interested a way to go deeper. We need nature to be fed throughout the curriculum. As economics is drip fed into most lessons in the examples that students have to follow, so ecology should also be included.
We will not fight to save what we do not love, but we cannot love what we do now know. The onus has to be on us all - to make sure that we do get out into the countryside, and that we are welcomed there.
So - maybe you were hoping for some dramatic solution to the problem of love and access? Not a chance - but maybe you have ideas ….