Friday, October 07, 2016

Ecological Peace Prize

Who makes peace with nature?
What would it mean?

Is the deerslayer a murderer or a pacifist?
When someone else has killed every
wolf and bear and lion …
when as the poet says,
the mountain is afraid of its deer …
does the deerslayer deserve her prize?

What trees do they cut?
New forests mown down to their nubs …
does she deserve her prize as well?

Sprayers of poison, pullers of defenseless weeds,
strikers of the match that kindles the fires
that blacken all they catch … are they noble?

For tallgrass nature
with one one-hundredth of one percent left on planet Earth,
is it not time to sign the treaty?

Who makes peace with nature?

Whatever will it mean?


James McGee said...

"... so does a mountain live in mortal fear of its deer. ..."
-Thinking Like a Mountain, Aldo Leopold

"Who makes peace with nature?"

I do not think any one person can make peace. I think peace can only be brought about by the sustained efforts of a lot of people.

"Whatever will it mean?"

"That's our most important mission. To make sure our kids and grand kids have at least as beautiful of planet, and hopefully more beautiful, than the one that we had."
President Obama's speech on Global Efforts to Combat Climate Change

Stephen Packard said...

Gregg Baker pointed out (in a Facebook response to this 'poem') that the Goldman Environmental Prize is sometimes called the Nobel for the environment. It is a fine prize that has been awarded to noble people. On the other hand, it's mostly about something different from what this poem is grasping at. In Europe and American, the prize has gone to people who have fought against pollution that had been poisoning nearby human communities. This work was totally good, but it's different. Helping cure disease, ending wars, teaching children to read, and teaching children to have values and ethics (rather than see themselves as consumers) are all good for people and the planet. But they don't help (or only indirectly help) biodiversity or nature.

In the temperate world, most nature in most areas of most continents, is gone. The U.S. midwest has a special opportunity, because we have some nature left (as do Australia, South Africa, and a few other temperate areas). But the needs for biodiversity conservation here require cutting trees, controlling excessive numbers of deer, fire, invasives control, sometimes by herbicide. And, sadly, many average good people hardly understand or support that. Many fine people have no consciousness about or support for these needs at all. These challenges very much need to be more widely known.

I agree with James McGee's invocation of Obama's speech. I appreciate James also referencing Aldo Leopold as "the poet" who wrote so compelling and so long ago about the tragedy of deer imbalance in his essay "Thinking Like a Mountain."

Anonymous said...

You raise a good point Steve about the public just not being aware. I feel the approach should be to have them walk in beauty and abundant life. The Sommes are good places for that -- I have never yet heard of anyone who had visited Somme Prairie Grove say "what an ugly place" (at least not over the past few decades). The sad fact is many forest preserves are a sad and diminished 'reality' of low diversity and darkness, that is accepted by the public because they see beautiful landscapes of verdant woodlands more often in fantasy cartoons than in the real world. If only they knew it were possible, they would perhaps crave it, or at least like in Will County sign a referendum to help pay for the work getting done. Fredericks Grove is an awesome place, among quite a few others. I think things are picking up at Crabtree lately now that the flowers are once more thriving in full glorious bloom. I thought it would be a good idea to put signs up "this beautiful landscape brought to you courtesy of prescribed burns."

If you teach them to love pileated woodpeckers, then it will begin perhaps to matter to them that their neighbor woods cannot harbor pileated woodpeckers, but could with the right TLC. Or give a hawk the gift of flight -- take that cloggy buckthorn out of its swoop path.

But who am I? What do I know?