Excerpt from "Escape to Hell and Other Stories" by Muammar Qaddafi
©Stanke Publishers, NYC 1998

The Earth

You can leave everything, except the earth. The
earth is the only thing you cannot do without. If
you destroy other things, you might not lose out, but
beware of destroying the earth, because you will
then lose everything! The source of biological life,
at which human life stands at the top, is food. The
earth is the container for this nourishment, which
comes in different types... solid, fluid, gaseous. The
earth is its container, so do not break the only con-
tainer we have, for which there is no substitute. If
you destroy agricultural land, for example, it is as if
you are destroying the only vessel containing your
food, without which you will not be able to consume
it. If you destroy agricultural land, it is as if you are
destroying the only vessel containing your drink, for
which there is no other receptacle, so how will you
be able to consume it? The earth is the lung through
which you breathe, so if you destroy it, you will
have no way to breathe. If the rain falls down upon
you without having land, you will not benefit at all.
Therefore, the sky has no value for us without our
having land.

     If oxygen is found somewhere in outer space,
what is the benefit if there is no earth? All of history's
conflicts throughout the ages have been led by man
against man, or against nature, have been about land.
Land has been the crux of the conflict. Even space has
been used for the sake of land. Truly, the earth is your
mother; she gave birth to you from her insides. She is
the one who nursed you and fed you. Do not be dis-
obedient to your mother -- and do not shear her hair,
cut off her limbs, rip her flesh, or wound her body.
You must only trim her nails, make her body clean of
dirt or filth. Give her medicine to cure any disease. Do
not place great weights above her breast, weights of
mud or stone above her ribs. Respect her, and remem-
ber that if you are too harsh with her, you will not find
another.  Sweep the accumulated iron, mud, and stone
from her back. Relieve her of the burdens that others
have placed on her unfairly. Revere the cradle in
which you grew up, the lap in which you lay. Do not
destroy your final resting-place, your place of refuge,
or you are the losers[11] and you shall truly regret

     Land remains land only if we preserve its
bounty. Land that is bountiful is truly useful land --
guard it well. If we lay tile or pave it, build upon it,
we will have killed it, and it will no longer give us its
bounty. It will then become merely tile or asphalt,
concrete or marble.  And these things do not give us
anything.  They do not grow plants or give us water;
they are useful to neither man nor animal.  The earth
will then have died.  Do not kill the earth -- do not kill
your very life.  The earth is water and nourishment,
and the dead land that has been covered by buildings 
and construction does not give this water and nour-
ishment.  Thus, there is no life upon a dead earth.
What kind of people are they who kill the earth and
bury it alive?  Upon what kind of land will their life
depend afterwards?  Where will they live, and
where will they obtain their food and drink? The
earth is something for which there is no alternative,
so whither then are you going?[13] In heaven there
are trees, and not roads, sidewalks, public squares or
buildings. Ruining the earth is its misuse, its trans-
formation into something other than land good for
producing water and food. Thus, those who turn
agricultural land into land that cannot grow any -
thing are the ones who spoil this land.[14]


11. Implicit reference to many verses; especially Sura 5, verse 30;
Sura 2, verse 27; Sura 103, verse 2.

12. As in to become "repentant"; Quran, Sura 5, verse 31.

13. Quran, Sura 81, verse 26.

14. Quran, Sura 18, verse 94.

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