George Orwell, better know as author of 1984 and creator of the concept of Big Brother, also wrote many political essays.
In his piece, Some Thoughts on the Common Toad, he revels in the delights of Spring’s return. The whole essay (it’s very short) is a lovely read.
In it,Orwell tells us that he is often criticised for writing about nature, that his readers see it as a wasteful distraction from the important and pressing work of political change.
But Orwell thinks that the task of changing our political and economic systems can go hand in hand with pausing to enjoy life and in particular to appreciate the creatures in London’s boroughs which don’t even pay any rent. He writes:
I think that by retaining one’s childhood love of such things as trees, fishes, butterflies and – to return to my first instance – toads, one makes a peaceful and decent future a little more probable, and that by preaching the doctrine that nothing is to be admired except steel and concrete, one merely makes it a little surer that human beings will have no outlet for their surplus energy except in hatred and leader worship.
Here, Orwell captures the important of clinging onto the childhood love of nature, and of imagining nature’s place in a future world with a different kind of politics.
A Focus on Nature‘s Vision for Nature campaign is all about imagining how young people want the natural world to look by 2050. Orwell’s pretty clear here that any future devoid of wildlife is not one worth fighting for. I thought of the idea of Vision for Nature two years ago. Several decades before that, Orwell was well ahead of me.