As I sat down at the Mystic Starbucks this morning, I received a message from a college friend of over forty years. After re-connecting with Stan through my new blog, it’s great to have him back in my life; he wrote from Arizona:
I’ve been liking your blogs, and because I identify with the ideas you present and your treatment of those ideas, it has made me think you might be interested in thoughts I have had over the years. I haven’t developed the thoughts very extensively, but if any of them strike a chord with you, perhaps they could be of some benefit in promoting what you generally advocate.
With a credit to Abraham Lincoln, Stan concludes, “We as individuals have habits and beliefs and ways of being that we acquired long ago. Many of those do not serve our best interests. We should frequently and critically examine the ways in which we are enthralled, and where appropriate “disenthrall ourselves.”
Thank you Stan for inspiring my blog today. Believe it or not, I was thinking about “consumerism” this morning as I was making up my bed — thinking of the massive amount of “stuff” that we humans buy and dispose every day of our lives. Also thinking about the vast amount of unnecessary resources like water that we use to feed ourselves a harmful, wasteful and unsustainable diet-style for our species.
As others have concluded in the past, we humans have indeed become the “infestation of planet Earth” and, unless we begin making some serious changes sometime soon, Mother Nature will have her revenge — and it won’t be pretty. Changing our diet to plant-based won’t solve all of the world’s problems, but it would be a mighty fine step in the right direction.
Oftentimes in my speeches, after describing the environmental disasters that we humans have caused — emphasizing that we are the only species in the history of the planet that has chosen not to live in harmony with nature, I conclude with this quote from Mark Twain:
From Time Magazine (11-22-10). Twain had arrived at the not unreasonable but never popular conclusion that mankind “was not made for any useful purpose, for the reason that he hasn’t served any; that he was most likely not even made intentionally; and that his working his way up out of the oyster bed to his present position was probably a matter of surprise and regret to the creator.”
I think that Twain “nailed it” over 100 years ago — and his description is much closer to the reality of today’s world than the good folks at Leave No Trace would advocate. I just looked them up online and copied the following statement. As Stan suggested, “that while that fine organization focuses on outdoor ethics, their philosophies are generally applicable in every aspect of our lives.” From their website:
Leave No Trace is a national and international program designed to assist outdoor enthusiasts with their decisions about how to reduce their impacts when they hike, camp, picnic, snowshoe, run, bike, hunt, paddle, ride horses, fish, ski or climb. The program strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. Leave No Trace is best understood as an educational and ethical program, not as a set of rules and regulations.
Great philosophies indeed, but I will bet that the environmental damage that our planet suffers from our outdoor recreation — pales dramatically compared to the damage inflicted by our overall lifestyle of eating, living, waging wars and moving about the world. But these principles could be applied to ALL of our human endeavors as we strive to learn how to once again live in harmony with nature.
But sadly, as I have stated in earlier blogs, my gut tells me that we humans are a selfish and greedy bunch who generally don’t care much for these kinds of highly principled endeavors. We want our big houses, swimming pools, cars, airplanes, meat and dairy at every meal, etc — and we’re not likely to adopt anywhere close to a “Leave No Trace” lifestyle until we are forced.
As I have said before, my thinking is that the force will come in the form of expensive oil, and I’m not talking about $5 and $6 gasoline; I am talking about $10, $15 and $20 gasoline within the next ten or fifteen years. Once the world realizes that we have indeed reached Hubbert’s predicted “peak oil,” prices will escalate to scary levels; at which time, people everywhere in the western world will be forced to totally re-think every aspect of their lives — the way they live, the way they eat, the way they travel, and the way they consume.
The great 2009 movie HOME reported that humankind has inflicted more damage on the harmony of nature in just the last fifty years — than all previous generations of humans for the past 200,000 years. As Stan suggests, the time has come to “disenthrall ourselves” and correct the impending disaster that we have created — before it’s too late. From Lincoln’s address to Congress, 12-1-1862:
Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood?….We can succeed only by concert. It is not “can any of us imagine better?” but, “can we all do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise — with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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