Castle Rock Institute Blog
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Dave Foreman on "Environment"
Earth First! cofounder, and founder of the Wildlands Project, Dave Foreman writes:

"I hate the word 'environment.' You can love a forest. You can love a mountain. You can love a plant. But how can you love an abstract concept?"

And when asked when he is the happiest, he responds,

"When I'm not thinking abstractly. When I am being fully an animal, when I'm in the middle of a rapid on the river and having to respond to the river. I'm happiest when I experience the moment entirely for what it is. I'm happiest when I'm bird-watching, or when I'm walking down a trail in the wilderness and the internal dialogue finally ceases -- I'm just there in the place."

And further:

"Our desire to protect wilderness comes from passion, from an emotional identification with wilderness. It's a sense of expanding the concept of the self to include the landscape around us and identifying with that landscape. This may seem an alien concept on first blush, but for somebody who knows a place, who can sit in the desert, watch it and accept it for what it is, who does not need to experience it on a dirt bike, or for somebody who can go into an old-growth forest and sit underneath a five-hundred-year-old tree and try to pick up some wisdom from it, I don't think it is alien. We are place. We are connected to everything, and we are open to the world around us.

I think we all fundamentally and early on love wild things and sunsets, but some of us have it socialized out of us. We forget that love. I feel sorry for people who don't have that identification with nature, because they're living half a life."

Putting all this together, we might implicate our dis-placement, our dis-connectedness from nature, or our tendency to approach the world through abstraction as root forces leading to environmental problems.
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