Why Do We Care More About Van Gogh’s Sunflowers Than Real Ones?

by Anna Bartlett (JCR Environment Officer)

Again, headlines have been filled with reports of the ‘extreme’ tactics of environmental protesters due to the actions of a couple of soup-spewing youths. For some reason (beyond what I can fathom as rational), this event appears to have horrified some people more than the collapse of life on earth, which is what the protesters are trying to prevent. There is nothing more harrowing than the facts about the future we face, and if scientists are not being listened to, what must it take to shake us out of our stupor? The consequences of the climate crisis are unimaginable. None of the horrors humanity has yet suffered, great as they are, even hints at the scale of what we now face. So, if you find yourself shocked by some spilled soup, perhaps a reality check is in order.

While cultural nescience is abhorred, ecological nescience is defended with a force field of oppressive law. As Van Gogh himself said, ‘it is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to’. We should take this as a warning, in a world where locking or glueing yourself to another protester, or to any other object, subjects you to a 51-week sentence (twice that of common assault), a world where we are not listening to the earth, the youth or the facts. Perhaps we should rethink who the real criminals are. Why, we must ask ourselves, would young people jeopardise their liberty and future life prospects in this way, if not to preclude a greater harm to both. And as for the painting, I want the same crucial protections it bears to extend to planet Earth, without which there is no art, no culture, and no life.

Perhaps even more terrifying than outright climate deniers are those that proclaim, from a comfortable distance, ‘I support their cause, but not their methods’. To you, I have nothing to say other than to please read what Martin Luther King Jr. had to say about such

The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford, written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff. New issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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