Ahead of COP26, our Managing Director Tom was invited to contribute one of the first leader letters to CEO Letters to the Earth, a collaboration between the Letters to the Earth campaign and Business Declares.
It was an opportunity to look in the mirror and reflect honestly on our relationship with the Earth, the only planet that gives us life but yet we are destroying. Perhaps by expressing things not normally spoken by business leaders, we might shift our own thinking and even our culture.
Below is Tom’s letter, incorporating thoughts from across the Wholegrain team.
What has happened to us? We used to be such good friends. We used to treat each other as family.
We didn’t intend to turn against you, but we have fallen sick with a disease that blinds us from what we are doing, not just to you but to ourselves. This sickness has made us delusional. It has made us believe that we are masters of the universe, ruling over you and all of the life that you create and support so generously.
We pollute the water, claiming it as ours. We burn the forests, claiming those as ours. We torture and murder the innocent creatures, claiming even their lives as our own to take and do with as we wish.
But none of it is ours.
And in all of this disgraceful madness, this mania, we reassure ourselves of our own goodness and tell ourselves that it is our right, that there is no other way.
The truth is that you, Earth, gave us everything. Every seed-bearing plant, drop of water and breath of air. You offered us abundance, and instead of being grateful, we demanded and took even more.
We have fallen for an illusion that we are separate from you. We can no longer see that when we nourish you, we nourish ourselves and that when we hurt you, we are hurting ourselves.
This is our own doing. We made ourselves sick through the stories that we created to fool ourselves into the worship of “the market”, our false god that we believed would deliver us all the worldly pleasures and solve all of our woes. How foolish we have been.
Now we are trapped. Trapped behind our digital screens, boxed in by walls, our feet afraid to touch you, our skin afraid to breathe, our eyes afraid to look without the protection of glass. We can hardly hear you speak.
And so we resort to the very definition of insanity and do more of the same, expecting different results. We throw more of our inventions at you, believing that the solution to our problems, the end to our destructive behaviour, is through ever more technology. But our technology only disconnects us further. If it wasn’t so painful, I’m sure you would be laughing at our claims of “advanced technology”, so primitive and absent of wisdom. We need to listen to you, not through our sensors, but through our senses.
You are owed an apology and we are deeply sorry, but I don’t expect you to take our word for it. Every year we hold more conferences, sign more treaties and make more pledges but we fail to honour our own words. You have heard our empty promises too many times. You don’t want to hear our apologies, you just want us to stop!
Like a virus attacking its host, we have not been good guests. Until we find a way to reconnect with you, to live symbiotically as a part of you, we leave you no choice but to try to evict us in order to save yourself. You are growing angry, and your fever is rising.
Everyday is a new beginning and we can do better. We want to do better. In the space between the sunset and the sunrise there is so much opportunity yet we are struggling to grasp it. We need your help. We have no right to ask for your help after what we have done, but we desperately need it. Can you show us the way back to you so that we can learn how to live together again in harmony? We hope that we can find you in time.
Whatever happens, we want to thank you for all that you have given us.