chapter  15
6 Pages

Sustainability, equity and optimism

The professional practice of resource management occurs in contested terrain where issues of sustainability, human rights and social justice are in constant tension with economic imperatives and technical sophistication. To conclude this book, I want to talk about optimism. I’d also like to draw inspiration from the words of a song that says more powerfully than I can, something about the issues tackled in this book. We commenced our exercise in rethinking resource management with Leon Rosselson’s song about the English Civil War. This time, the words come from North America’s recent colonial history. In her song, ‘My Country ’Tis of thy People You’re Dying’, Buffy Sainte Marie reflects on the contemporary relevance of dispossession and marginalisation of American Indians in American society. Her words are as relevant and powerful today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century and more than 500 years after Columbus’ misreading of the landscape commenced the Eurocentric history of the world, and a few years after the quincentenary of Columbus’ voyage, as it was when she wrote them over twenty years ago:

My Country ’Tis of thy People You’re Dying

Now that your big eyes are finally opened. Now that you’re wondering, ‘How must they feel?’ Meaning them that you’ve chased cross America’s movie screens; Now that you’re wondering, ‘How can it be real?’ That the ones you’ve called colorful, noble and proud In your school propaganda, They starve in their splendour. You ask for my comment, I simply will render: My country ’tis of thy people you’re dying.