Monday, March 15, 2010
Our Little Blue Planet
The symbol for the environmental movement has long been our blue planet Earth as seen from outer space- and I think it's a damn shame. It seems to me the Earth is too large and abstract, too big and impersonal, too dis-embodied, to really love. Not that people can't develop a strong personal connection with a large and abstract entity- take God for example. In religion, love is awe: the love of God is big and mysterious and unknowable- and we must return that love based on faith rather than anything we might receive through our senses. To me, that’s the opposite of what love of nature really is. In love of nature, we come to love through our senses- through our experience of our bodies touching the world around us. Sure, the Earth is a powerful symbol, but disturbing as well. It symbolizes of the meaninglessness of our little lives. It sums up all the great patchwork mess, the geological and biological diversity of the planet, in a single one-ness. But environmentalism to me is expressing a love for a little piece of the Earth, not the planet as a whole. I’d prefer a smaller, more human-scale symbol for my environmental movement. Maybe a child growing a seed in a Dixie cup. Or an old man sitting on a tree stump, deep in thought. Or a kid catching a frog. The Earth-symbol somehow represents to me the environmentalism that treats science as a religion, that treats the word of James Hansen as the word of God. Let’s move towards a more populist environmentalism, and embrace the multitude of environmentalists. The farmers, the gardeners, the landscapers, the hunters, the trappers, the fishermen, the naturalists, the pigeon-fanciers, the ghost dancers, the spirit healers, the shamans, the holy men.