Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Invest in the Millennium. Plant sequoias.

With the fieldtrips we’ve been on, discussions we’ve had, and reading we’ve done this semester, I’ve definitely been given a more in-depth sense of where I fit into the greater scheme of the natural world. On one of the first days of class we were presented with a list of questions asking about ourselves. One of those questions was “What prompted you to enroll in this course?” I answered, “Because it was a cluster with another environmental studies class.” Looking back on that, I’m really glad I decided to take this class somewhat by a fluke, because I have learned an incredible amount of useful and interesting things which have impacted the way I live.
One selection that really caught my interest was Wendell Berry’s “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front”. Berry was correct in saying that people “want more of everything ready made,” and lines like that forced me to compare my attitudes and habits to the ones that are apparently the norm of our society, however, I found most of the poem inspirational. “Love the world. Work for nothing,” he wrote. I took Berry’s advice to do something that “won’t compute” to heart. It’s an amazing piece of writing and it’s one of my favorites. It is true that Wendell Berry is the antonym of Wal-Mart and there’s something to be said for that in this world of consumption and capitalism.
Another selection that compliments Berry’s writing quite well is Alan During's “The Dubious Rewards of Consumption.” During writes, “With consumption standards perpetually rising, society is literally insatiable.” Since my mom is already a huge proponent of “But Nothing Day,” I wasn’t planning on participating in Black Friday, however when I read this piece the Tuesday before November 26th, I was literally angry with the thought of millions of people waking up at 2 am to wait in lines to buy useless things that will fill our landfills five years from now. As the people of our world make an abrupt transition from producers to ravenous consumers, stories like Barbra Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle inspire a sense of sustainability that the last few generations haven’t been accustomed to. The idea sounds outlandish, but for since the beginning of time people have been living like the Kingsolvers…until now. The thought of this transition makes me dread the future of humankind, but Kingsolver’s account gave me some hope.
Finally, The respected John Burroughs taught me that “the science of anything may be taught or acquired by study; the art of it comes by practice or inspiration.” Our Place in Nature has pushed and inspired me to seek out the beauty and magic in nature. And with that, comes inspiration. He also comments that “to know is not all; it is only half. The other half is to love.” The things we’ve discussed have given me a newfound appreciation and connection to the nature around my home, Michigan. Going to the Kalamazoo Nature Center and the Farmer’s Market, I was reminded of the gems here in my community. But, more than anything, the texts we have read and the discussions we’ve had have forced me to seriously think about what I’m doing to and on this earth. However, now I know, and that knowledge and respect for the environment will definitely have an impact on the actions I take while living on this planet.

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