If I ruled the world: Sir Tim Smit


1st Jan 2015 Life

If I ruled the world: Sir Tim Smit

Sir Tim Smit KBE is famous for his work restoring the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall. He’s also the co-founder of the Eden Project. Here are the rules he'd establish if he found himself king of the world. 

I’d move the United Nations to Jerusalem

This would make them focus on that part of the world from which an awful lot of global friction emanates—and give them a vested interest in sorting it out.


Everybody would be taught good manners 

If there were a global appreciation of what it meant to be a virtuous person (in a secular way) then the only problems that would exist would be personal health. For with good manners comes a spirit of fellowship with others, generosity and the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. And out go issues of colour, gender and wealth, which cause so much trouble in the world.


In every country the electricity would be turned off one day a week 

It’s the absence of the things we take for granted that can help build better communities. When power was cut off in New York after hurricane Sandy in 2012, people said that they talked to their neighbours for the first time. This made huge contributions to a sense of social engagement. It’s also about respect for what we have at our fingertips. So when people turn on a tap they should contemplate, in silent wonder, the magic of running water in their homes.


Dance, music and art would be introduced to children long before other subjects 

One of the most charismatic organisations in the world, started by the inspirational Bill Strickland, is the Manchester Bidwell Corporation in Pittsburgh. Bill maintains that children have their crayons ripped away too early in life so they never learn what they actually love doing. His courses range from ceramics to horticulture, encouraging children and adults alike to find a language of their own to express themselves.


We’d understand our bodies 

To make an analogy: most people’s bodies make a Ferrari look like a rust bucket. Our bodies are the most beautiful and extraordinary things and we ought to respect them absolutely. The problem is that we weren’t born with an operating manual to enable us to explore the capacity for well-being and pleasure that our bodies can give us. But making the effort to understand how they work and looking after them would make a huge difference to our physical and mental well-being.


All cats would wear bells to keep birds safe

A place without birdsong is a place of death. At Heligan we manage the farmland to encourage bird life and it’s such a joy to hear their song there. I’d also put a global ban on the use of pesticides. Let’s not forget that life on earth depends on the insects that have been here for hundreds of millions of years longer than us.


Everyone would grow fruit trees, flowers or vegetables

Whether you live in a flat or a stately home, growing plants and then keeping them alive is an act of worship to nature we all need to engage in. Obviously I feel a bit smug on that front…


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