Watch the video of Peter Owen-Jones’ talk at TEDxExeter 2013.
Scroll down the page for biographical information and news.
Video and Live blogging
The photos attached to these live posts were taken by Benjamin J Borley as people were coming and going during the speaker rehearsals.
First up in the “Big Pictures” session is Peter Owen-Jones. Human beings are mortally terrified of two things: death and public speaking! He is a human being, and right now is mortally terrified!
At the entrance to Exeter Cathedral is a screen of statues, but no-one knows who they were, their faces and bodies almost indecipherable. We can be sure that we will all die. This is our beautiful impermanence. And we will all bequeath something of ourselves to the next generations.
His question today is what are we leaving our children? What type of planet, society? We’re leaving them a world in grave peril: seas that are denuded and polluted; mass extinctions; a toxic mixture of government, corporations and media, who uphold the illusion of ownership – not a reality, merely a belief system. We are the first generation who are consciously leaving behind a planet in a worse state than we inherited.
In nearly all of the countries he’s travelled to, he’s had the same conversations with people like us – about the future we are leaving for our children. And the conversation on the ground seems completely alienated from the media discourse and the conversation taking place in the corridors of government.
What if we were to understand that we are coming to the end of an age? Trade and economics have taken us to this situation. What if we were coming to the age of economics, and are beginning to explore, tentatively, the age of the environment?
We live in countries which are industrialised militarised complexes. In a conversation with a family in Egypt, they said: I am not an Egyptian, I am a human being. Peter has learned to join them in saying: I am from planet earth.
How would it be if we were to leave our children no more militarised industrialised complexes that we know as countries? What if we were to acknowledge a basic human right of free movement? Song thrushes and robins have more freedom than we do. Militarised industrialised complexes of countries are not fit for purpose any more. We need to imagine a world without them.
Religions that do not uphold the dignity of all life on this planet are not fit for purpose. The divine is not limited to the human expression. Farmers who poison the earth and fishermen who exploit the seas are not fit for purpose. Corporations that put profit before people and planet are not fit for purpose. Farmers and fishermen and women need to bless and care for the earth and the seas. This conversation is taking place all over the planet now. We need now to have our voices heard.
Article on the Life Cairn project, co-founded by Andreas Kornevall and Peter Owen-Jones
Peter Owen-Jones is an Anglican priest, author and TV presenter. He started life as a farm labourer and later gave up a career in advertising to follow a calling to the Anglican ministry. He has presented various BBC series, including: Around the World in 80 Faiths; How to Live a Simple Life, in which he tried to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi by turning his back on consumerism; and Extreme Pilgrim, in which he lived as a Chinese Buddhist monk, a Christian monk and an Indian ascetic. In 2000 with the Diocese of Ely he founded the Arbory Trust, which is to this date still the only Christian woodland burial site. He is an ardent environmentalist and the co-founder of the Life Cairn Project, memorials to commemorate all the species which have become extinct as a result of human activity.