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Week 3: 25 September 2011

Tim Smit KBE

Co-founder, Eden Project

A golden rule for citizens

Before embarking on a journey to a new promised land ask yourselves why hope is so often dashed on the rocks of a paradise imagined?

Is it not the case that dreamers (and I cast Utopianists in this mould), have about them the self same viciousness in the vanity of their righteousness as those whose world they seek to leave behind?  A moment’s reflection on the creative delights we enjoy so much will show you that their creators would, by and large, not pass muster on the journey to paradise. Libertines, addicts of all descriptions, men and women inhabiting a land beyond the edge of reason. Some foul smelling, some with views so distasteful as to make them beyond the pale, some with temperaments so violent or gloomy as to make them impossible companions, yet others with appetites so various and powerful as to disturb even the most balanced of persons.

Be careful what you wish for. A world of beige and consensus may await and the grit that forms the oyster may be absent. Yes, we love the words of the Declaration of Independence (pity about the slaves and women though). We love the Declaration of Human Rights and there is much to admire in The Bible, The Talmud, The Koran and myriad other books of enlightenment and belief, but, in my long life so far I know one thing only with any degree of certainty, save “death and taxes” and the sun coming up…and it is this: Wherever you find a zealot you find poison in the soul. For those imbued with certainty about how others should lead their lives are responsible for almost all the pain and suffering visited upon humankind and it will always be so. So, citizens, the golden rule in our new land must be a moral code that simply acknowledges that which all religions and people of good heart have agreed upon since the dawn of writing itself. Do as you would be done by and cause no pain to others and our land should be ruled by “Pragmatists with Hearts of Gold”.

Tim Smit KBE

Tim Smit KBE  is Chief Executive and co-founder of the Eden Project in Cornwall.

When Eden Project opened in 2000,  the press dubbed it "the Eighth Wonder of the World” for its famous biomes, creating 'the largest Rainforest in captivity' and Mediterranean climates that support thousands of different plant species. As well as his initiatives in environmental education, Tim is also involved in encouraging social enterprise and entrepreneurship.

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Nowhereisland is a Situations project led by artist Alex Hartley, one of 12 Artist Taking the Lead projects for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad funded by Arts Council England. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the University of the West of England, Bristol; Bloomberg; Nicky Wilson Jupiter Artland; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Royal Norwegian Embassy and Yellowbrick Tracking.

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