We needed money to replace our broken boiler and to heat our house and water. Tongue in cheek, we did the lottery and were astounded to learn that the prize was a staggering £200 million. Why would one person want such an amount? Why not divide that up and help more people each week?
As the days rolled on, we started to dream of what we’d do if we were to be the lucky winners - buy a house for everyone we personally know to be struggling, that’d be £10m gone. Sort our own lives - less than a cool £1m. And still there’s more than anyone could need in ten lifetimes.
Well, imagine… buy up wild jungle for chimps, for orangutangs, savannah for elephants, rhinos and more. Chunks for ancient tribes, because as Amnesty International knows, such cultures protect the environment they have always treasured. I know this having grown up with a noble tribe.
Once when we were out tending cattle, my hero Kipchebet spotted a leopard approaching the herd. He slowly moved towards the dangerous cat whose body was bigger than his own, spear levelled, sword gripped at the ready. The leopard, not one to be faced, turned and crept towards my fearless warrior friend.
They were about four metres apart when they slowed and the huge cat began slowly circling to find a weak point into which it could leap and end the foolish human’s life with a single swipe or bite. Undaunted, Kipchebet circled and as the leopard crouched at the ready to spring, he too lowered his lean body, raised his sword and readied his spear for defensive strikes.
This was noted by the leopard who snarled in anger at the pertinence. Its tail swung with annoyance, along its spine rapidly erected fur rippled. How dare such a frail creature challenge the undisputed king of the savannah. Kipchebet snarled too, his face feline, his muscles rippling along his shape.
The cat’s eyes widened. This was unexpected. Such confidence spoke of danger. A little more circling, constantly mimicked by my beloved friend and mentor and the leopard took the minutest backwards steps as each lifted paw set back a bit on the hot soil. Kipchebet too took an equal step back.
The leopard noticed every single move in my hero’s body, every minute expression, the depth of each breath. Realising it had met its match, it retreated subtly with as much dignity as an always unchallenged beast could muster. Kipchebet did exactly the same. From childhood his people had watched and admired every animal, insect and flora around them, including snails, and in the evenings they told stories about what they had seen. Those most loved were tales of how these living wonders, whatever their size, enacted specific incidents. And here was this warrior who would face any threatening beast or human with silent attention, living to his advantage the information encapsulated in those ancient tales.
The cat turned, lifted its tail and spat liquid in disgust from its bottom. Kipchebet stood tall, yawned long and hard and set down his deadly spear and sword which I’d often watch him sharpen at night. The cat was soon gone and Kipchebet fell to the ground and lay there gasping and relaxing. When he rose, I, typical of my culture, stated in fear filled astonishment, “Why didn’t you kill it!”
“But why?” He was equally astounded. “It now knows me, my smell, my figure will always be respected.”
My people had in the preceding fifty years eradicated the millions of superb animals upon what had been, until we settled the Uasin Gish Plateau, the world’s most abundant population of fauna. We had stolen by deceit that futile land, defeated by Kipchbet’s spear wielding tribe for ten years, in 1906 we finally held a peace treaty, insisting Nandi leaders and generals arrived without weapons or security. We shot them dead. Within the hour we hunted down the warriors until we’d killed them and then we corralled their families in tightly controlled villages. We who criticised South Africa’s apartheid system, imprisoned the next Nandi chief for far longer than Nelson Mandela’s internment.
The Americans are as bad, remember Vietnam, Cambodia, but remember how we cut the Himalayan jungles to build our ships…. That Israel has been able to act with impunity illustrates what has become of our so called democracy. No wonder we are called hypocrites as we condemn Russia.
No wonder at this week’s COP28, our civilisation is not respected. Look what we did to China, to India, to Africa, to Arab lands and specifically to Iraq and what we are allowing a fascist country to do to the poor people of Gaza. You can be full of admiration for Jews, as I am and have Jewish friends, as I do, yet dislike what Israel’s government has been doing for decades to the people whose land they took. You can, as I do, respect the Palestinians, have Arab and Muslim friends, yet not like the extremes of Islam.
We in the West need world support. We finally, after forty years of non-disputable evidence, understand the threat of Climate Change and the oil countries have manipulated facts as well as the distaste for us to enhance their domination of world economics.
This a pivotal period of history. Future generations, if there are any left, will study what we are going through. They will see a confusion of forces acting one upon the other, economic, strategic, historical, social and environmental, as well as the complexity of psychological reactions to these influences. Currently every aspect of of lives are being affected.
The fanfare welcoming Putin’s surprise (but well planned) arrival at COP28 indicates things are shifting. This man who we let ruin Georgia, Chechnya, Syria and Ukraine is admired by world leaders from East, South and Central Asia to Africa and China. These people are currently in the euphoria we felt fifty years ago as they embrace the abject greed and corruption which we are now moving from. Our short term-ism driven by the political desire to be re-elected is our weakness and stern handed confidence now seems more popular.
You, me, every one of us needs to wield the power in our purses to shift all this… buying locally, etc, trying to use less oil and gas. Our new boiler, costly as it is, big as the loan for us on small pensions is, will consume much less gas, will last much longer, will adapt to hydrogen technology…. There was no need to win the lottery, money, as our history shows, sucks.