Losing paradise

Sungai Luit, Kg. Pertak, Ulu Selangor, Malaysia

From a microcosmic point of view, where I live is a good example of how easily paradise can be lost.

For the last thirteen years I’ve lived in a small village by a pristine fast-flowing river in the Malaysian rainforest. Over that time, the area has become a very popular spot with weekenders and although it’s really great to see so many people wanting to connect with natural energy, they invariable leave all their rubbish behind them.

The village and surrounding forest is home to members of the Temuan tribe who collectively decided to impose a small levy on outsiders entering the forest. This pays a small wage to the villagers who go out and collect the rubbish at the end of the weekend.  It seemed like a good idea at first, but because the village doesn’t have any municipal rubbish collection, they have no means of disposing of it once it’s been gathered up. As a consequence, the amount of rubbish in and around the village has increased enormously. Some is hidden away in undergrowth – a case of out of sight, out of mind. What doesn’t get dumped gets burned filling the village with plumes of incredibly toxic smoke. Plastic water bottles, bags and food containers, disposable diapers, cans and bottles … you get the picture.

As recently as 20 years ago, the Temuan were living in humble dirt floor shacks and huts by the river. They cooked on open wood fires and tapped the river and nearby springs for fresh water. At night they burned oil lamps to keep the darkness at bay. All in all, it was a pretty basic and hard physical existence, but the surrounding environment was pristine and they were connected to the knowledge of their ancestors (nenek-moyang) and their animist belief in nature spirits.

Then a dam project forced them to resettle and they were given a new village with cement houses, indoor sanitation, treated water and also electricity.  Suddenly, they became connected to the rest of society in a way that hadn’t been possible before, given their previous lack of infrastructure and geographical isolation.  Now, although the villagers are healthier and more prosperous than they were before, this change in their lifestyle has had a profound effect on their culture and has resulted in a loss of consciousness and disconnected them from their ancestral beliefs and identity.  Traditional storytelling and ancestral songs have been replaced with TV and very loud karaoke sessions, they depend less on hunting and foraging to keep themselves fed and many have succumbed to the pressure from proselytizing missionaries and turned their backs on the spirit world to embrace religion. 

This is by no means a unique situation. Indigenous communities throughout the world seem to be suffering from this insidious malaise as they are coerced into bartering their traditional way of life for so-called development and their pagan beliefs for organised religion and don’t think, for one minute, that those of us who live in more materially sophisticated societies aren’t under threat too.

The Greenspiracy story, Butakala Plastik (Plastic Monster) describes the loss of paradise from a macrocosmic perspective.

Butakala Plastik artwork by Sylv

 It tells of the time when the creator, Ra becomes so enraged with humanity for despoiling the beautiful, sentient planet that was gifted to them, that he’s seriously contemplating eradicating homo sapiens once and for all. It seems they have become a pestilent force, disrespectfully destroying natural habitats and other earthly lifeforms in order to satisfy their constant cravings.  Fortunately, due to the timely intervention of other celestial beings and cosmic planetary guardians, Ra agrees to hold back his destructive wrath. Instead he dispatches his son and emissary, Matahari, to Earth to gather intel on this Butakala Plastik culture that seems to be overtaking the planet leaving ecological destruction in its wake and disconnecting humanity from its divine origin.

He solemnly decrees that he will abide by his envoy’s decision, whatever it may be.

The Butakala assumes many forms as it spreads its rapacious tentacles across the global landscape, polluting land, rivers and oceans alike with scant regard for the miasma it is fomenting. Engorged by the greed and corruption of big businesses and the political interests associated with them, the monster taps into the human psyche by luring its somnolent victims into a blind, orgiastic spree of materialism and debauchery cheered on by the media magnates and the lifestyle and perception gurus. In this climate it’s not hard to grasp why Ra is pissed off…I really get it…

The more toxic we make the Earth, the more toxic we make ourselves and the more open we become to being controlled by fear, anxiety, greed, suspicion and a feeling of being separate from the source of life that created this earthly paradise.

Matahari’s first Earthly encounter takes place in the mythological realm of the mermaids, who brief him on the sorry state of the world’s oceans and seas before he embarks on his journey into the human realm where he comes face to face with those who have fallen under the Butakala’s spell as well as those who have managed to escape its clutches.

How far have the monster’s tentacles already spread?

 Is the majority of humanity enslaved?

 Does humanity deserve a second chance?

What do you think?

How would we account for ourselves if Matahari came knocking on our doors? 

I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this in the comments below. Would you advise Matahari to end the human experiment or to intercede for our survival?

2 thoughts on “Losing paradise

  1. mary maguire i realy like your testimony of your jungle checking point life reality… sad indeed…but may be locals in the new generation will rebonce soon somehow understanding the risk of loosing their roots..
    very excited about your butakala plastik saga just right on time with a scifi touch mixing comic ..music and that important ecological message… all best of success for your interesting project


    1. Thanks to you Sylvius for creating and sharing Butakala Plastik…let’s hope this is the year that we will get this important message out there…definitely time for change on planet Earth.


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