Easter Island is a metaphor for our modern world. Before contact with Europeans, Easter Island had a rich culture and thriving population. But it was a troubled civilization that doomed itself — by living life out of balance.
EASTER ISLAND SYNDROME
Easter Island Syndrome (EIS) is a societal sickness caused by life out of balance. Our modern society suffers from this sickness. And the question arises: will we make the same mistake as the Easter Islanders — living life out of balance — or will we learn from their mistake?
WORLD’S MOST REMOTE ISLAND
More than 2,000 miles from the nearest continent, Easter Island is the world’s most remote island. While lost at sea, Polynesians stumbled upon Easter Island more than a thousand years ago. An advanced culture then flourished on the island — with as many as 10,000 souls — on a tiny island measuring just 63 square miles!
THE MOAI STATUES
The island is most famous for its hundreds of gigantic stone tiki gods, the Moai, (pronounced “MOH-eye”), which were erected by the Rapa Nui people. The Moai – with their haunting, aloof expressions – keep a silent vigil over the island – an island with no trees!
AN ISLAND with NO TREES
When first “discovered” by Europeans – on Easter Day in 1722 – there were no trees on Easter Island. It was all grassland. But recent archeology reveals that, when the original Polynesians first settled, the island was covered in a forest of palm trees! However, after just a few generations, the islanders cut down all the trees.
CLEAR CUT ISLAND
So, why did they cut down the trees?–for the usual reasons, for housing materials, to make tools, to build fishing canoes, and of course, for transporting and erecting the Moai statues. But the islanders went too far. They completely exhausted their most precious resource — trees!
THE DAY the UNIVERSE CHANGED
On the day they cut down the last palm tree, their universe forever changed. With no trees, the islanders soon ran out of rope — which they had used to transport the Moai statues. They also ran out of logs on which to roll the statues. Sadly, cutting down the last tree meant there would be no new Moai — the centerpiece of island culture.
NO MORE PALM TREES
After cutting down the last palm tree, there would be no more housing materials, no more tools, no more fishing canoes, etc. And no more coconuts. (And no more organic coconut oil!) After cutting down the last tree, the islanders were doomed.
BIRD’S EYE VIEW
From the highest point on Easter Island, you can see every square inch of the island — and this is significant — and unsettling – for when the islanders cut down the last tree, they surely knew it was the last tree. And yet, despite the fact that they could plainly see it was the last tree — they cut it down anyway!
LAST TREE in the KNOWN UNIVERSE
It’s truly remarkable when you realize that the Easter Islanders — thousands of miles form the nearest landfall — consciously cut down what was, for them, the last tree in the known universe. Did any reasonable voices intervene and try to rescue that last tree? Apparently, the tree huggers were shouted-down by the tree cutters.
DESCENT into MADNESS
Without trees, the island’s soil began to erode. Crops failed. And with no new fishing canoes, mass starvation eventually overwhelmed the islanders. Their civilization collapsed. Rival clans began in-fighting and attacking one another’s statues — by toppling them. Chaos reigned. And when they ran out of food, they began to eat one another!
In the wake of the island’s cannibalism epidemic, the haters threw around a hate-tastic insult, which today would make for savage memes. The islanders would insult one another by saying: “The flesh of your mother sticks between my teeth.” (Omg!)
MORAL of the STORY
When the Easter Islanders wrecked their world, isolated in the vast Pacific Ocean, there was no island where they could relocate — and no one to rescue them. Likewise, if we wreck our world, isolated in the vast ocean of space, there is no planet where we can relocate — and no one to rescue us.
DON’T MISS the METAPHOR
The collapse of Easter Island’s civilization is a cautionary tale. Is our global civilization headed towards a similar collapse? Are we destined to cut down all the trees?
THE LAST TREE on EARTH
Our civilization is based upon supply-and-demand capitalism, which views trees as commodities, not living things. We cut down more trees than we plant, year after year. At the current trajectory, by 2038, we will have cut down all the world’s trees. Will we do like the Easter Islanders?–and consciously cut down the last tree in the known universe?
WHO SPEAKS for THE TREES?
“I am The Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” Of all his books, The Lorax was the personal favorite of Dr. Seuss, who famously said that The Lorax was “intended to be propaganda.” Such a wondrous book! But The Lorax is a fictional character. If we are to prevent civilization’s collapse, the tree-huggers must find the courage to shout-down the tree-cutters.
SOMEONE LIKE YOU
Who will save the trees? It’s up to you! “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” — Dr. Seuss, The Lorax. Truer words were never written.
I am reminded of a bumper sticker I once saw. It satirized the environmental group, EarthFirst! The bumper sticker read: “Earth First! We’ll Log the Other Planets Later!” (Funny, not funny!)
Will we cut down all the trees? Will history repeat itself? There’s an old saying: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Yes! Exactly! But for those of us who do remember the past — we are condemned to sit-by helplessly — and watch everybody else repeat it!
~~T. Matthew Phillips, Esq.
Produced and Directed by TMP’s Midnight Minions
in association with Chapter Eleven Productions,
Fly-By-Night Management Services, and
Neurotica Entertainment Group
Copyright 2018 – T. Matthew Phillips, Esq.
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax