Newton’s third law of motion tells us that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  The Buddhist principle of karma similarly teaches us that everything we do, every decision we make, has a consequence.  Philosophical determinism suggests that we cannot escape the inherent causality of human existence, and that our actions will inevitably give rise to the effects that reflect our essential morality.  Faced with the imbalances that subsequently blight much of our over-exploited, under-resourced, conflict-riddled world, the question is – how should we live?  

What is it that we’re saying when we talk of highs and lows? Why do we linguistically frame our lives this way? How have we even come to collectively associate and articulate “forwards” and “up” as signs of progress, while assuming “backwards” and “down” to be regressive?

In his final novel, Island, Aldous Huxley created a vision of utopia where the Pacific island of Pala is an “oasis of happiness and freedom,” free from the trappings of capitalism, consumerism, and technology. Some say that the Island is an example of humanity at its sanest and most admirable. Yet it ends, predictably, in sorrow, “the work of a hundred years destroyed in a single night.” So, what was Huxley’s point in creating then destroying a vision of paradise?

All animals occupy a different niche in space and time.  Bats, as the only mammal to have developed the ability of true flight, are uniquely placed to survive in the shadows of the night-time.  As well as being ecologically indispensable, they are magnificent to watch.  Tuning into their world is a privileged way of gaining access to this world and a poignant reminder of our place in the universal order.

What constitutes a meaningful life, what is the point of existence, how do we fulfil our potential in a single lifetime in such a way that contributes to humankind, to the planet?  These are the questions that provide the subtext to virtually all human activity and thought. Only we no longer have the luxury of time to contemplate the possibilities because we've antagonised the planet to the point of bringing on our own extinction.

Irreversible species decline, catastrophic climate change, fresh water shortages and global food insecurity – it can be easy to despair when every day brings another slap in the face of a headline. With each new report, hope can disintegrate as surely as the ozone layer. But it doesn’t have to be like this – if we take the time to pause and reflect on the causes of despair, some say there is a chance we can save ourselves.