Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Listening to the Earth

Yesterday, a thoughtful friend sent me this encouraging news:

The South American Republic of Ecuador will next week consider what many countries in the world would say is unthinkable. People will be asked to vote on Sunday on a new constitution that would give Ecuador's tropical forests, islands, rivers and air similar legal rights to those normally granted to humans. If they vote yes - and polls show that 56% are for and only 23% are against - then an already approved bill of rights for nature will be introduced, and new laws will change the legal status of nature from being simply property to being a right-bearing entity.

The proposed bill states: "Natural communities and ecosystems possess the unalienable right to exist, flourish and evolve within Ecuador. Those rights shall be self-executing, and it shall be the duty and right of all Ecuadorian governments, communities, and individuals to enforce those rights."


Just last week, during a discussion of development issues in Jackson County, another thoughtful friend raised some timely rhetorical questions:

"Who speaks for the water?"

"Who speaks for the land?"

Contrarian that I am, I countered:

"Well, let's remember, the water and the land are quite capable of speaking for themselves. It’s up to us to listen. It’s up to us to learn how to listen."

This week, I rediscovered the many joys of WALKING. In this case, I don’t mean putting one foot in front of the other. No, what I rediscovered was the essay by Henry David Thoreau. In my humble estimation, "Walking" more than holds its own with Thoreau’s better-known "Walden."

With his unparalleled ability to find a different perspective on the world, Thoreau gets the last word in today's rumination. I suspect he would be heartened by the news from Ecuador. Certainly, Thoreau spoke for the land, and listened, too. But in this passage from "Walking", he suggests that the land can speak for us:

Where is the literature which gives expression to Nature? He would be a poet who could impress the winds and streams into his service, to speak for him; who nailed words to their primitive senses, as farmers drive down stakes in the spring which the frost has heaved; who derived his words as often as he used them — transplanted them to his page with earth adhering to their roots; — whose words were so true, and fresh, and natural that they would appear to expand like the buds at the approach of spring, though they lay half smothered between two musty leaves in a library, — aye, to bloom and bear fruit there after their kind annually for the faithful reader, in sympathy with surrounding Nature.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

not only to learn how to Listen,
but to also learn how to SEE.
Stop Look and Listen, the old phrase from elementary school, applies even more today.
Thank you for being a cataylst of awareness.