As I have listened to the unenlightened blame dead trees for all our fires, where there are no dead trees, have suffered under the barrage of ignorance from politicians and industrialists who talk of clearing forests to protect us from fires that occur nowhere near such forests, and fretted over the demonization of habitat under, between, and far from forests in the form of small plants and bushes, I have found myself embittered, saddened, remorseful, worried about our future as a species.
Have we really become so disconnected from Nature that we now make up stories to push her further away, to justify her domestication until all that is left is the occasional weed between the cracks of a sidewalk, or the random shrub that appears in the human-made, park-like forest? Do we really believe that logging companies, burners of smashed habitat, and Novocained bureaucrats who have barely left their desks in years to kiss an unfettered stream, have our best interests at heart? Do we honestly think such broken souls will fix Nature for us so that she will finally bend to our will? Do we really believe in our own hubris so much that we really think we can force Nature to reflect our fantasy of a bucolic place that has lost all manner of teeth and spirit? What kind of world do we think we are creating?
I shall suggest what type of world. A world filled with filtered air, indoor lights, meeting rooms, refrigerators, and fat asses.
Log the trees? Clear the brush? Dam the rivers? Create the final app that will suck us all into an artificial world that allows us to forget where we came from?
I say to hell with that. To hell with the politicians who listen to the entrenched bureaucracies who care more for their budgets and careers than for the mission they are charged to follow. To hell with those who listen to the money instead of listening to the people who can not travel to the capitol or to those who speak for Nature for no monetary return. To hell to the industrialists who infect the capitol with their multitudes. To hell with the non-thinking masses who fail to question anything they hear, especially, of course, if it confirms their own vapid beliefs twisted into a form that no longer recognizes truth.
To hell with complacency. It is time to reject the delusion those in power have created for us, the delusion that we can live free of the place we called home for two million years, a place that made us who we are – all of our desires, our patterns, our collective consciousness. It may feel comfortable indoors, but our mental anguish, pathological conditions, and hidden frustrations tell us otherwise. It is time to listen to the wild one within and say to hell to all of those who make us think we are less than.
Although embittered by developments placed in harm’s way by governments charged with protecting us, saddened by the loss of so many plants and animals, remorseful over our species’ blindness to the destruction we cause our planet, worried that it is too late to make a difference, I rise up, climb to the very top of my mountain and scream, “To hell with that!”
While I may not be able to stop a law, prevent a destructive project, change the opinion of a broken soul, alter the course of an election, or reverse climate change, I can touch the hearts of those who have a young enough heart to listen. I can provide hope to those who have not completely lost touch with their wonder of Nature, the magic of a cool night enhanced by the call of a distant owl, the awe of a snow-kissed valley in the Sierra Nevada, or the beauty of a tiny hummingbird collecting energy from the throat of a manzanita bloom. I can and I will do this.
I will help others see, reconnect with their ancestral home, with Nature.
The smile of the innocent, the enthusiasm of youth, the inspiration of the elder, all of these qualities I aspire to foster with the one thing I know I can do, the one thing that will triumph over all the sadness our species insists on bringing to the earth – the hope that Nature can provide.
I can change myself. I can change a friend next week. I can change a stranger next month. I will make a difference in the face of what many say is a lost cause. What other causes are worth fighting for?
Get the hell out in Nature. Be mindful when you are there. Connect with your new friends, the friends who call Nature home. Let me show you the way.
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Beautiful, wise and inspiring. Thanks Rick for the lovely gift.
And thank you, Georgie.
My exact sentiments!
Good rant. Good to get that off your chest and out where everyone can see it, feel it. Since the times when Muir tried to save the Sierra (and lost the Hetch-Hetchy), and Abbey shouted from the wilderness of the slick-rock southwest (and look at it today!), and Bowden warned of wars on our southern border, (where no matter who wins, Nature loses), we have needed bold people who would pen their thoughts to get us thinking. Good job Rick!
Hello, your site is absolutely fantastic, wow! I just moved from the “shrub-steppe ecosystem” (or whats left of it) in Colorado and your site is the best resource I have found to compare the two dry lands with just the specifics and enthusiasm I’m looking for:) The seasons are certainly quite different from what I am used to seeing. from what I am used to seeing. I am a bit confused as to how chaparral forests defoliate. it seems all over the place- some scrubs are blooming while others are yellowing, and then there are totally oxidized, gray(not brown) leaves that appear to have just died and stayed on the plant for years. Can you tell me if that is something you are used to seeing?
Hi Christina, sorry for taking so long to approve and post your comment.
Yes, our long term drought has had a major impact on chaparral vegetation. A lot of it is drought stressed. In the Santa Monica Mountains for example we are losing most of the ceanothus there. As climate change continues, we will likely see more of that.