During the run up to last years Scottish Independence referendum I grabbed a rare half hour with my 19-year old son to quiz him on which way he was voting. He was a resolute No. I naturally assumed he’d considered the wider implications of a No vote to public services; the consequences to social and cultural cohesion; the likely impact on the economy and perhaps even, what Independence would mean to Scotland’s environmental policy. I was wrong. It turned out that as a representative of Team GB in alpine sports, he liked the tracksuit. He was voting on the future of his own country solely on the basis of an item of leisurewear.
I’ve heard similarly shallow, self-serving perspectives expressed during the run up to the General Election and again in the developing conversation on the potential reintroduction of lynx to the Scottish Highlands.
“ I don’t want my dog to get eaten.”
“ I don’t want my lambs to get eaten.”
“I don’t want to get eaten.”
I’ve heard all of these concerns and many more besides and to varying degrees, they are real and understandable but are nevertheless symptomatic of a societal disease, which dominates our decision making: Me Now. We seem to be incapable of thinking beyond our personal aspirations and circumstances Right Now. Whether you’re in favour of Scottish Independence or not; whether you vote blue, red, yellow or green and whether you support the reintroduction of species that we previously eliminated, your vote, your view, should surely look beyond Me Now?
Returning lynx to the Scottish countryside is for me, a moral and ecological imperative. Not because I personally think they’re cute; not because they would make a great photographic subject: it’s not about Me Now. It’s about putting the ecological jigsaw back together; repairing our broken natural systems. It’s about restoring food webs, allowing natural processes to fuel nutrient cycles. It’s about considering the longer-term, bigger picture – way beyond Me Now. It’s about doing what’s right.
I understand fully the need for all of us to protect our interests – economic, cultural and political – but surely those interests should take account of the interests of wider society and indeed, of other species? The Me Now attitude that governs our political decisions has crept into the ecological arena, putting obstacles ahead of opportunities; creating division where unity is needed.
I don’t want my dog or my cows to get eaten by a lynx or a wolf or a bear. But equally I don’t want generations that follow this one to live in an impoverished landscape where the only thing that matters is Me Now.