The Green Beans

The Green Beans

Saturday, 24 August 2013

We the MacRitchie Lovers

Today, Qing and I went for a 'Love MacRitchie advocates training', which was a nature guide training for the Central Catchment Nature Reserve. The training was conducted by local nature guides who have been advocates for the environment, some for 30 years already, and we could really feel their passion and dedication in saving Singapore's natural green spaces. 

To sum it up, this training was part of the campaign 'Love Our MacRitchie Forest' which was initiated in response to the government's proposed Cross Island MRT Line, that is set to cut through the Nature Reserve through the MacRitchie forest, including the precious primary rainforest within it. 

Proposed Cross Island MRT Line through the CCNR
Picture from


So instead of talking about the birds that we heard and saw, foraging reptiles and mammals that we stared at in silent awe, insects we photographed, or the many trees that we identified, I want to present my own personal experience and takeaways from today. Everyone in the group went through the same physical journey and saw the same things, but each and every one of us experienced them very differently - and that's the beauty of nature. It provides you with whatever you require - tangible or intangible.

We already know that we get a lot of our stuff from nature, that's the material, 'practical' aspect. But there is so much more that nature provides us with, beyond what you can buy, sell or wear.
What I've learnt throughout my 17 years of growing up with nature is that our relationship with Mother Nature is much more than just a transactional and material one. There must be a reason why we ascribe the name "Mother" to nature isn't there?

By calling her Mother, nature becomes a person to us. Not just a person, but a mother, someone who cares, nurtures, and provides for us. Like the oldest trees in the forest, she is grounded and always there with us. Like the birds in flight she looks after us wherever we may be. And through the entire ecosystem, she shows us how, just like the symbiotic relationships we see in nature, we too must remember that we are part of the ecosystem, and that anything that we do to it, will not only affect others in the web of life, but will affect us as well - and so like all mothers and mentors in our life, she teaches us to think before we do, to be people-centered and think a little bit more about the other people who are in our lives.

Mother Nature, right here, is a teacher, a friend, and is our family, and the least we can do to give back to all her generosity of all these years of bringing up our human race, is to respect her and say thank you. Are these not universal teachings that we value among people? Why should our relationship with nature be any different?

Just as how our relationship with other people reflects who we are as a person, so does our relationship with nature. How can we cut through the nature reserve (is it not called a 'nature reserve' for a reason), and assume that nature will adapt to its new concrete surroundings? Just as we have learnt never to take people for granted, the same goes for nature. We have a biodiversity richer than you can imagine, though sad to say, it is declining rapidly. I implore you to think about what you would like to do to give back to the forest, as you would do for your parents, grandparents, children and loved ones.

So why do I write all this? Is the issue not about stopping the MRT line from being built and to protect our forests through raising awareness of the issue at hand?
Yes, but for me, it is not at all about getting angry at the government, seeing them as an enemy that seems to be out to destroy everything that we love. You probably know this little saying, that when you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you.
I was in London 3 years back, and I came across a sign that said;
You are not stuck in traffic. You are Traffic. 
How often do we fail to realise that we are part of the problem?
When will we begin to realise that the fact that this issue exists in the first place, is in itself a reflection of our own society and of ourselves?
How many times have we wanted the quick fix to a problem, the shortcuts and the cheat sheets?
How many times have we complained that there is never enough...? 
We are not the only ones on this planet, and we part of an Ecosystem, and not an Egosystem. 
How often to we pause to reflect on our own lives?

I'm throwing out a lot of these questions, questions that are perhaps not meant to be answered but are somehow answers in themselves. Just by thinking about these questions, we raise our awareness that the issue at hand is not an issue external to ourselves but more of a reflection of ourselves. So I guess the more fundamental, underlying question at hand is not about MacRitchie (though it is indeed a big issue important to us), but is (and I leave you with this thought) :

What kind of person do you want to be? 

Stay tuned, we'll be posting more information about the actual names, statistics and stories from our training today soon!

The Green Beans. 

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