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To give further background to my position on the conflict between fragile human populations and adverse effects of external influence – in the case of last week’s subject, over-zealous and ill-informed environmentalists – this is a continuation on that theme.
There is no doubt as to the importance of stewarding our natural environment.
One of the greatest assets the Highlands and Islands has is the relatively untouched surrounding natural world. This is understood by the populations of islands such as Tiree and they have lived in harmony with their surroundings for many generations.
There are always going to be legitimate areas of debate regarding certain issues, and that, of course, is essential to progress.
However, the place of the human population of these islands is in a precarious position.
Continued survival of indigenous people should never be put at risk by the narrow agendas of special-interest groups from far away with little care or knowledge of the culture, language, history, present and future of the people living there, be that a landlord of years gone by, a multinational power company, an environmental group or a holiday-maker protesting against a local fisherman sustainably dredging for scallops.
The Reaping of the Barley
I stand upon Ben Hynish and view a barren land
Reaped and raped by strangers to feed the landlord’s hand;
Those left pushed to the shorelines and thousands forced abroad
Driven out like cattle, by systems foul and flawed.
Deceit and lies were used to prise the people from their homes.
When that no longer had effect, there came more brutal tones.
Tripled rents by landlords bent, the world’s wealth to keep,
Evictions, burning houses, just to clear the land for sheep.
Too long our people trodden down had no resisting voice.
Made weak by laws of lords because we thought we had no choice.
The 1880s saw the change, no longer we’d retreat
And fought for firm tenure on the land beneath our feet.
We know how cruel is the world, such ruthlessness we see.
These sad but constant truths of life will never cease to be.
Grudges held for anger’s sake bear no fruit now or then
But learn, and move and never let our corn be reaped again.
RSPB and SNH have ever-growing powers.
These faceless groups would
make Tiree a land of birds and flowers.
If they could they quickly would fill ships in Hynish Bay,
‘Clear and burn, get out, get off, you’re getting in our way!’
Talk of turbines standing high along our western view,
Reaping wind to save the world, I do not doubt they’ll do;
But if our doorstep holds the gold of winds or birds or flowers
We must not dance to the strangers’ tune – they must dance to ours.
Play parks on surrounding seas for experimental science,
No thought of Milton’s fishing fleet, to be killed with forced compliance;
Control if stolen yet again, by fickle far off whim
For livelihoods and families – the reaper’s scythe is grim.
The paradox is change must be a constant by our side.
This fact we must embrace because we cannot stop the tide.
Sail with the tide but choose our course, show strength in where we steer
And give the children of the grain a future bright and clear.