I was given a book today, something of a mystery surrounds it.
The title is Walking by Henry David Thoreau, I found it laying next to my miter saw – there was an inscription inside addressed to me.
I didn’t see anybody around and asked the people whose house I was working on if they had left it, but they said no and hadn’t seen anyone either.
I was only away from the saw about ten minutes, had it it set up on a couple of 2×10’s atop a pair of saw horses.
Years ago I read Walden by Thoreau, but wasn’t aware he had written Walking – on the back it says it was written shortly before his death and published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1862.
It begins with:
“I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wilderness, as contrasted with freedom and culture merely civil – to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of
society. I wish to make an extreme statement, if so I may make an emphatic one, for there are enough champions of civilization: the minister and the school committee, and everyone of you will take care of that.”
A lot of food for thought in those few words, and I read no further at the moment as they gave rise to thoughts of my own.
To speak for Nature, something so many fail to do – to see ourselves as “inhabitants” rather than masters should be an awareness all possess.
Modern man has mistaken greed, avarice, do it to others before they do it to you – cheat a little here, cheat a little there because everyone else does, and ego as civilization…none of which is civil, the core word of civilization.
Freedom has become going to the supermarket or mall, wilderness the zoo or camping in a national park- all of which increases the distance between man and who he was meant to be.
I can’t help but believe if we all understood what freedom and wilderness mean the world would be a better place – if we understood and accepted we don’t own the planet – that as individuals we are merely sojourners traversing for brief period of time, then to return to the very land we have trod upon, and perhaps abused.
Our relationship with the land should be one of mutualism where both benefit, if that isn’t possible then we should strive to do no harm.
By any accounting the scales have titled to imbalance long ago, and while the earth may suffer, in the end it is humanity who will suffer the most.