Environmental Narrative 1

Environmental Narrative 1

Adapted from a rant Bill Reed gave during a talk at a conference in Pittsburg.

The biggest leverage points of our time are hope and love. Our approach thus far in regards to the environment is like this and here I'm going to assume a male-female relationship—

Here's Nature. She weighs 500 lbs. She's got scoliosis, halitosis, zits. She's unsocialized. She's been sexually and emotionally abused and, in fact, you abused her! And now I want you to take care of her. I want you to be in relationship with her.

How's that sound? That's basically the way the environmental movement has portrayed Nature, as a guilt trip. She's so damaged, so terrible, so scary, so abused and you abused her, but now you should be in relationship with her...something doesn't fit with that message. Something seems off.

And of course then there are the conservationists that are taking Nature and putting her in a closet and saying you can visit her twice a year.

And then there's the environmental economists that are basically saying and she does great ironing, great laundry, she's really worth it

Isn't that what we're saying? We're objectifying life to the point of absurdity. And so what are we doing here? We're here to remind ourselves of a system we have forgotten about. We're here to fall in love.

So, how do we fall in love? We date somebody. So lets start dating Nature. After dating we may come to understand her and after understanding we could, just maybe, fall in love. This matters because that which we love we take care of.

In a letter Wendell Berry sent to Gary Snyder in 1978 he wrote—

I am, I believe, a “non-violent” fighter. But I am a fighter. And I see with considerable sorrow that I am not going to get done fighting and live at peace in anything like the simple way I once thought I would. So how to keep from becoming evil?
Maybe the answer is to fight always for what you particularly love, not for abstractions and not against anything: don’t fight against even the devil, and don’t fight “to save the world."

As the mammal homo sapiens we are inextricably bound to life on this planet. We are Nature, so in a very real sense fall again in love with Nature is to also again fall in love with ourselves. What better way is there to spend our short time?

Weeds and Work

Weeds and Work