Roots and Wings


I’ve come upon Margaret Silf’s book, Roots and Wings, a series of short meditations which explores life from the Big Bang to the present. She sees the possibilities of an evolution from a world of fear and survival to one where love and discerning choice is our guide. No pie in-the-sky idealist, she is not convinced that a better would will automatically evolve unless we individually play our part in making it happen.

She notes some positives that we should be grateful for:

  • There is more awareness that we are a global family, and that decisions we make here and now have an impact on everyone else on the planet

  • More people are protesting that military force is not the answer

  • More people are seeking a spiritual dimension to their lives, including many who would not describe themselves as religious

  • More people care about the environment

  • More people seek balance in their lives

  • More people are seeking peace and justice in specific contexts

But lest we be euphoric, she also reminds us:

  • There is a breakdown in trust – in companies, in institutions, in professions that leaves people isolated, fearful and defensive

  • Our lives are shaped by the consumer markets of multinational corporations who think they control what is good for us – and that often merely means profitable for them

  • Despair drives too many to addictive behaviour and compulsions

  • Fear makes us very willing to sacrifice our personal freedom and restrict that of others

  • There are dark forces of anger and frustration that are unleashed in destructive and negative ways


I read this book long before I developed my current interest in writer Thomas Berry and they are unlikely to have ever met. But her Jesuit roots intersect well with his Passionist ones in love of and concern for the environment.