becoming a self in history, becoming a self in my street

Alastair McIntosh

Alastair McIntosh is a writer and campaigner. He co-founded the Isle of Eigg Trust, which successfully managed to free the residents from their feudal status to the laird. He also campaigned successfully against the super-quarry which would have destroyed a mountain on the Island of Harris. In his book Soil and Soul he writes:

This book is about concern… It is about the interrelationships between natural ecology, social community and the human spirit. It moves away from the mainstream trunk of western culture and goes out on a limb, where the blossom is… The mainstream manufactures people as monoculture… it forces growth in standardized ways. The song we sing from within the mainstream is therefore not our own song… Progress and prosperity might have made us richer in material terms. But meanwhile, between thirty and a hundred plant and animal species become extinct everyday and the poor bleed. Such atrocities impact upon the psyche… shaping who we are and what we become. This book is about those impacts and how they can be healed.

The great disease of our time is meaninglessness. If fresh wellsprings of hope are to be found, we must first cut through the collective hallucination that ‘there is no alternative’ to nihilism… We must get beneath the grassroots of popular culture and down to the eternal taproot. Here new life can grow from ancient stock.

But to make blossoming possible, we must embrace our losses. We must face the reality of a brokenness of heart that is both personal and of the world. Surprisingly that is when we discover that pain is the mantra: the very suffering of the world can be what repeatedly calls us back to the imperative of its healing. If we can persist and sit with the reality, not running from it, a music may eventually be heard. The fetters of destructive control loosen. Life’s dance resurges. And there is joy despite everything.  

References to works mentioned are on the references page.