If the priorities are kept in the right order, the beauty of flowers, seen as the expression of a principle and not as an accident, can teach us directly, intellectually, and without recourse to sentiment of any kind, that this philosophy of despair is rubbish.
But can one thus metaphorically consign to the waste-paper basket the life’s work of so many able and erudite men, highly trained in logic and in exposition, and deeply convinced that they are struggling to save mankind from self-destruction? What have they done to deserve such treatment? Well, what they have done is to consign to the waste-paper basket, metaphorically or otherwise, the whole of the “perennial philosophy” that is enshrined in the sacred Scriptures of the world, all the exposition and exemplification of that philosophy given by the saints and sages whom the world has revered from time immemorial, all religion, all tradition, in short, all that has hitherto given meaning to human life. And, one must add, all that can still give meaning to it, and not a spurious meaning, as they would have it, but the only meaning it has. If they are right, they themselves must be the avatars and the prophets of a new age of realism, destined to replace millennia of delusion; but if they are wrong, the word “rubbish” applied to their work is too gentle.
An anthology of Lord Northbourne’s writings on ecology and spirituality is in print under the title Of the Land and the Spirit. With thanks to World Wisdom Books and the journal Studies in Comparative Religion.