Sunday, November 22, 2015

A More Ideal World

Earth from Space with Stars

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey Flickr Page:

The old button from the Environmental Club days which I just happened to find on Earth Day! It is a little beat up (particularly the ends of the ribbon), but no worse for the wear, I think. And it is one of the few items that I have left from those days, so it carries a lot of great memories for me! Nothing Changes Until You Do!

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's needs, but not every man's gred."

~Mahatma Gandhi

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future."
~John F. Kennedy  

President John F. Kennedy

This is a particularly solemn day. I just stepped outside in the predawn hours, and it is cold, feeling more like winter than the fall. Only a week and change ago, a shocked and horrified world witnessed the Paris attacks, and a renewal and intensification of the war on terrorism.

While the aftermath of these events are still taking place, this day of course also marks the anniversary of another grim event - the assassination of JFK some 52 years ago in Dallas, Texas.

Both events gripped the world, and shocked it to it's core. In both cases, we saw something glorious and perhaps even beautiful marred by senseless violence. The killing of a young president who embodied what was best about America in one case, and the beautiful city of lights suddenly under attack by ruthless and sadistic terrorists in the other case.

It is too easy, when we examine these and other tragic events of our past, to give in and resign to some sense of helplessness and hopelessness about the world. Many people have voiced the opinion that humanity as a whole is a hopeless basket case, that there is something wrong with us, and that our doomsday destination is a foregone conclusion.

However, there some hopeful signs, as well. Among other things, diseases are being eradicated, old rivalries between warring nations have become mere memories in some regions of the world (this is particularly true in Europe), and people appear to be experiencing an awakening and a sense of empowerment that was perhaps inevitable with the universal education that many in the richer countries too often take for granted.

We are finding some value in civilizations that were too easily dismissed in the past, finding wisdom in their words and in their ways. A lot of that started with Henry David Thoreau, who is often credited as the father of the modern environmental movement.

So, I thought that I would take the time to share a quote that held particular resonance with me now for quite some time, because I believe in them. Thoreau believed that each town should have some space reserved specifically for wilderness, and that this space was not to be touched by development, but left alone for all future generations to enjoy. This would be a universal place that would deceptively appear to remain the same, yet would have undergone incredible changes, through the course of the decades and centuries.

Thoreau was right, and I feel that this idea of his should be taken more seriously. So, I share those words of his today, with hopes that still, someday, they might be realized:

"Each town should have a park, or rather a primitive forest, of five hundred or a thousand acres, where a stick should never be cut for fuel, a common possession forever, for instruction and recreation. We hear of cow-commons and ministerial lots, but we want men-commons and lay lots, inalienable forever. Let us keep the New World new, preserve all the advantages of living in the country. There is meadow and pasture and wood-lot for the town’s poor. Why not a forest and huckleberry field for the town’s rich? All Walden Wood might have been preserved for our park forever, with Walden in its midst, and the Easterbrooks Country, an unoccupied area of some four square miles, might have been our huckleberry-field."

~Henry David Thoreau, "Huckleberries", Journal, 15 October 1859

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