MacPhail

The Oban Times - - Letters - AN­GUS MACPHAIL an­gus­macphail@ya­hoo.co.uk The Reap­ing of the Bar­ley

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. 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.

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