Author: Meghan Hayman

I am a junior at Keene State College, dual majoring in Elementary Education and English Writing.
The Preface

The Preface

In the essays that follow I am writing to open not only my mind but my heart. I have felt my ignorance dropping away and being replaced with my knowledge and this has led me to taking action for our environment. I started off writing with such a small amount of knowledge on Environmentalism but after reading each book the information grew and so did my respect and understanding of our earth’s reality. A turtles shell protects all of the internal organs, the important parts of its body and it is the home to the species. When he pokes his head out, he leaves himself vulnerable but he will never survive without taking the plunge into the ocean. The earth is our home, our protection, and just like the turtle without the earth we are not able to survive. The problem we face in ‘coming out of our shells’ is that, by gaining an understanding of environmental knowledge and when grappling with the truth we become vulnerable.

The reoccurring theme within my essays is that knowing environmental issues makes all of us responsible for our actions and this is a hard truth to swallow. Reading writers such as Rachel Carson, Gary Snyder, Wendell Berry, Linda Hogan, and Terry Tempest Williams leaves each of us responsible for our actions. For once we become truly aware of our world surrounding us we either take action or must sit with this knowledge. All of us, to some degree, and I begin with myself, are in denial thinking that we are not part of our earth’s destruction. Starting with denial makes it difficult to express compassion for environmental issues. But once I started making my personal connections to the books my mind and heart opened and this is when my change went from being ignorant to active.

Reading any type of book or collection human beings will find themselves connecting to the main discussion in personal ways. Being able to relate to the things that you are reading to your own life allows for a deeper meaning. when books talk about cancer, illness, chemicals, battles, and destruction we all will have a direct relationship with these elements. Because of these connections I will be active and I will make my knowledge known. Saving our earth is important and it is needed. I believe this collection of essays starts to take on the responsibility of our earths problems. My work presents the damage that we as humans have done, through the effort to state the truth. Our earth is slowly being killed along with the entire human race and my work is the comprehension of what has already been damaged, what needs to be done, and how we can make efforts to make a change.

The Wall: Which Side Do You Fall On?

The Wall: Which Side Do You Fall On?

We cannot eradicate the coyote, nor can we fence him out, not even with eight feet of chain link, as this sad but wiser pilgrim can attest. Respect him as the wild predator he is, keep your children and pets inside, leave no food source, however, negligible, where he can access it…The coyotes keep coming, breeding up to fill in the gaps, moving in where the living is easy. They are cunning, versatile, hungry, and unstoppable.” (214-15)

Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle (1995) portrays the sad reality that we as Americans, are living today. The quote above discusses the need for a wall to keep out the coyotes but in reality it is meant for keeping out the other races, specifically Mexicans. Now in the year 2017 we are struggling with this idea of a ‘wall’ being built along the Mexico border and the fact that this idea was even brought into conversation in the first place is disturbing. This book brings in a completely different view of two different couples who live on either sides of the land. Delaney and Kyra are the main American characters and they come across Amèrica and Càndido who end up changing their lives. The theme behind this story is that people of other races are dangerous and they have to be kept out. This so called, ‘racial danger’ is so real to our world right now and the wall coming up is serious. If there is a wall built, what side would you want to be on.

This past Spring break I was lucky enough to travel to a town on the coast of Baja, Mexico. I come from a little town where racial diversity isn’t really a thing. Of course we had a couple of different races in my high school but by a couple I mean maybe ten out of the 700 students. So when I went to this town called Loreto I was a little nervous especially since my parents kind of primed me before my trip by saying, “don’t ever leave your stuff unlock or alone”, “you can never go anywhere on your own as well” my parents weren’t even going on this trip and they have never even been to Mexico but it was really sad for me to hear them saying these things just because of assumptions. Just like in this book, we assume that people who are different than us are suddenly dangerous. Since Donald Trump had just been inducted into office a wall being built surrounding all Americans and secluding us from the rest of the world was a realistic option. In the last couple of years there has been a new border crossing set in place where you just walk down the hall through a building and you’re suddenly in Mexico. The diversity change was unreal. We started in San Diego and even there, the amount of different races incredible. Just going to a major city like this was something so new to me. All of our Uber drivers were different races and they were all so nice as well. I truly had a culture shock and I hadn’t even left the country yet. Once we crossed the border we were in Tijuana, known as the largest drug city in the world. I didn’t leave the airport but it was beautiful.

Loreto Mexico, Spring Break 2017

When you think of Mexico we all seem to picture pools and margaritas but I got the entire opposite of Mexico. I loved being able to see the sad truth about the abandoned buildings, the hundreds of stray animals, the cows that just roam, and the reality of people who live outside of the US. Tortilla Curtain started with just a gate around Arroyo Blanco and the immigrants jumping the ‘wall’. So many people have to come to the US to survive, they drive across the border every single day of the week to go to their job only to turn around at the end of the day and drive home. I had a conversation with the woman who was cleaning our house that week and she talked to me about her home life and how she has to travel to the US every other month. This talk made me think about what would happen to all of these people if we had a wall along our borders. Not only would we ruin our alliances and sources of products but we would literally be ruining peoples lives. Kyra was scared about people coming into her home but she wasn’t thinking about why the Mexicans are in the states in the first place. There are many buildings where they don’t even have windows and you can’t get fresh water there, you have to buy it from the Agua store. These are the exact things I was thinking about when I read this story. We can’t have a wall whether it is just around Arroyo Blanco or around the entire US. Walls are mean’t to keep things out but I think what we keep forgetting is that they also keep things in. Americans are notorious for leaving their home country and having the ability to fly wherever they want but with a wall you can’t have places where you can travel to such as Loreto. Mexicans welcome us into their home country everyday and they accept the fact that we arent really there for anything but pleasure. But in Tortilla Curtain, Cándido and América are searching for their way of survival. They need to be able to stay in the states to stay alive and to search for our so called “American Dream”.

The road to San Javier

Within the walls of Arroyo Blanco is a sad woman, Kyra, who sees her gorgeous home that is finally protected by the ‘wild’ Mexicans but she is forced on an everyday basis to face her own dreadful life. Outside of the walls she is closing out all of the other people around her and that is scary in itself. We can build walls around our countries borders but all that will be left within the states is greed, dissatisfaction, waste, and depressed American citizens. So I guess the question we should all be asking ourselves, especially those who have read Tortilla Curtain, which side of the wall would you want to be on? The side of greed or the side of freedom, happiness, and community?

Knowledge is Wild

Knowledge is Wild

Gary Snyder’s collection of essays in his book The Practice of the Wild is an opening into his own personal mind. In his first essay in the collection, “The Etiquette of Freedom”, he talks about freedom, wildness, culture, and nature/wilderness. The understanding of the term wild is a hard one to wrap my head around. Therefore, in this first essay he allows for a broad definition of what it is to be wild and to have wildness. The first thought that comes to my mind when I think of wild is truly the nickelodeon tv show, the Wild Thornberry’s. Maybe it is just the fact the the word wild is in the title or maybe it is the meaning behind the show. We are all wild in our own ways and this children’s tv show proves it. The oldest sister is so interested in being a teenager and being into the technology, which in the time that the show was made there wasn’t anything like what we have today. Technology is wild. The youngest sister can speak to animals and her best friend, Darwin, is a monkey. Of course the irony behind Darwin and Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection is the perfect fit when it comes to letting the wild take hold of a person and how the wildness in life can choose ones fate. The little brother, Donnie, is literally wild, in a more modern form. He doesn’t speak or wear clothing besides shorts, he is the definition of wild when it comes to the Webster Dictionary; undomesticated and living in the natural environment. Thinking of the term wild in a younger version helped me get through his first chapter because knowing what wildness is explains a lot of what Snyder is saying.

Wild Thornberry’s -Buzzfeed

Snyder compares being wild to a fox. He states, “The word Wild is like a gray fox trotting off through the forest, ducking behind bushes, going in and out of sight” (9) this paints a picture in every readers mind. This fox is free, he isn’t running he is trotting. The fox is wild while he is in the wilderness. To be wild and to have wildness is to have the freedom of yourself. “but wildness is not limited to the 2 percent formal wilderness areas. Shifting scales, it is everywhere; ineradicable populations of fungi, moss, mold, yeasts, and such that surround and inhabit us” (15) is how Snyder describes that wildness is in the wilderness but it isn’t held to the standards of what we as humans consider to be wilderness.

Originally the word wild was used when the Europeans met the Indians, they saw them as untamed and savage. Their ways of living was different that the Europeans therefore, they considered them to be anything but normal so they chose for them to be ‘wild’. I think that when someone is wild it means that they can survive off of the land, they have the capability to learn things through nature and the wilderness to stay alive, just like how animals do. We are animals in our own way, we came from primates and through human evolution have come to where we are now. This whole idea of human evolution is wild. The term can be used in almost any form and especially as an adjective. But the major question that I have found myself asking throughout the entirety of The Practice of the Wild is: Isn’t wilderness, nature, animals, humans, bugs, insects, aren’t they all wild and not in the sense that they are living but that we still only know so little about everything in our world and that is what makes things wild. Our pure lack of understanding/knowledge with everything we encounter is what defines this word wild.

Language is wild as well and Snyder really enjoys the fact that we as humans have language. In this chapter he uses almost an entire two pages to discuss what the dictionary says different words/sayings mean. The point behind him doing this is for the reader to ask themselves, why is there a defined answer to these words/sayings’ and truly no one will ever have the same personal definition of what animals are, what plants are, and what food crops are but then he takes these words and puts them with the word ‘of’ in front and it makes the entire definition change. Words themselves are wild and the mouths that are speaking them are wild because, “our bodies are wild” (17).

Environmental Violence

Environmental Violence

Edward Abbey’s 1975 novel, Monkey Wrench Gang is a thriving story about how the environment and experiences can change ones personal characteristics. I think that everyone has the ability to change when it comes to the various obstacles that life seems to throw at us. All of the characters in the book are involved with something that makes the world ‘go round’. Doc Sarvis is a surgeon who literally saves the lives of people who live on our earth. Seldom Smith is a river boat guide who lives his life on the water showing people the ways of the land. George Hayduke is a Vietnam Veteran who fought for our country and risked his life to save what we have. All of these characters have placed themselves in positions where they are all involved with the environment. As they move through their lives taking on each situation they are learning to move their ways through life. The real question is does violence solve these environmental problems?

Looking into who the author himself, Edward Abbey. Abbey was an anarchist at heart and he had worked out his position both in philosophical and practical terms. He worked as a park ranger meaning that he was deep in the middle of our environment and this is important to know when thinking about his writing. All of his personal experiences within the wild is what led him to writing his stories about the earth and what it contains. Since he was up close and personal with environmental violence this gives him the right to write and discuss political issues and environmental violence in his work. Many have said that his writing is blunt, but for the truth to come out and writer has to be straight forward and honest.

Violence is not the answer but when it comes to anything, specifically in America, hurting things seems to be the main route. Our earth is filled with such beautiful things and when we as humans are slowly finding new ways to destroy what we have. The Monkey Wrench Gang follows through with this idea that ‘monkey wrenching’ is what needs to happen with our environment. Protesting or sabotaging the environment is what we all do whether it is apparent or subconsciously. We as humans have forced ourselves upon this earth and have created a serious footprint in the soil. We continue to step forward and leave our tracks on the ground. Sometimes we can say that this is a positive thing and we are moving into the future but in the end we are slowly ruining everything we have. This book discusses this in the eyes of violence.

Vlad Tchompalov- Unsplash

“What’s more American than violence?” Hayduke wanted to know.
“Violence, it’s as American as pizza pie.” (176)

Environmental violence is viewed very differently through the eyes of many different people. The controversy between what is hurting the world and what is helping will always be around. Considering the earth is changing so often it is all based around the adaptation of humans the the environment together. But more often than not, humans are changing the world at such a fast pace that evolution can’t seem to keep up. This is where the battle between humans and mother earth starts. Abbey makes environmental violence into an amazing story about his characters who are trying to save the world while in the end they end up just using violence to get what they think the earth needs/wants.

The industrial side of this novel tells a lot about the our current world that we are living in. Everything seems to be filled with this industry that needs to have things done in a timely manner while also making plant of money. This is another reason why we have come to environmental violence. The desire to have a mass production and extreme amounts of money will also cause violence. Not only towards the environment but also to the human race as well. Often in this world we find ourselves fighting over who is considered to be the middle class or the upper class and how do we get there. Human beings seem to have fuzzy vision when money becomes a factor of discussion. They will do anything, even if that means cutting down the forests, killing animals for only certain parts of their bodies, and hurting their own species. Industrial and environmental violence are smoothly linked together by the last word: Violence.

Each and everyday our world is changing and I personally feel as though lately we have been changing for the worse. The Monkey Wrench Gang is based completely around the violence that has succumb to the earth, environment, and human beings. For the most recent environmental violence that we have watched is the decrease in national land from Bear Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monuments. If this within itself isn’t one of the largest violent acts against the environment then I’m unsure of what is. This book is a sad truth about what we have to deal with on a daily basis along with what our future holds, we are already on the track towards destruction of our environment and even more violence.

Universality of Disease

Universality of Disease

Refuge the 1991 novel by Terry Tempest Williams takes on an amazing approach to the battle of cancer. For anyone who has fought this battle they understand the strength that it takes to overcome this sad truth. Not everyone survives, in fact most don’t, and that when you do the consequences that follow often are worse than the actual disease. This novel takes on the psychological sides of cancer and the physical sides all while keeping the sanity of life too. Disease itself is completely universal and I think that in this point in everyones lives the specific disease of cancer is also universal. Each cancer is different and they all have different treatment plans that also differ from each individual but the experiences and outcomes are often similar. Some people such as Diane, Terry’s mother, take on the deadly situations as positive, they want to live their lives to the greatest. Other people think of this like it is the worst thing that could ever happen and they simply just can’t function anymore. Most will fall in-between these two extremes.

Before even reading the entire novel I knew that the words spoke to me and my personal experiences. I ended up calling my dad to tell him about the take that this book had on the understanding of cancer. He has always looked at his cancer as a war, the fact that he was fighting against his own body. After I told him that he should read it he sent me this…

“I didn’t ask for this fight. I wouldn’t wish this disease on Satan himself. But, I’m in this fight. Make no mistake. Im in it. I choose to see myself not as a victim or a patient, but as a combatant. This isn’t just a fight. This is a war. It’s a war that rages inside of me every second of every day. The enemy is clever. It looks for ways around my body’s natural immune system. It hides in plain sight with impunity. It looks for ways to mutate and change so that the latest weapons my doctor gives me becomes less effective until they no longer work. It relentlessly attacks me over and over again… each time making me weaker and weaker. Im still new to this. I’ve only been on three rounds of Rev/Dex (chemo), but my resolve is stronger today than it was the first day I took all of those pills. Im not going to lose this fight. Im not giving an inch. Im not going to be moved by this. I will stare this beast in the eyes and fight with everything I have. I will go as many rounds with this beast that I have to in order to stick around until something else takes me out…. preferably old age, but I will not give in to my Multiple Myeloma.”

“Enjoy the little things”

He being a veteran has served out country for fifteen years and so I think his take on this book would be incredible. For someone who has always been a fighter he looks at this disease as the same thing. Williams stated, “And then suddenly, within the rooms of secrecy, patient, doctor, and family find themselves engaged in war” (43) which is completely true. For anyone who has sat there in the doctors office listening to them tell you parent, sibling, relative, or even yourself you know that this is something your body can’t fight on its own. That is why we have to poison it with chemicals and surgeries. My father of course has thought many times about whether these chemicals entering his body is truly worth it but for him he has two daughters, one being me, and we are what makes it worth it. The nights where he can’t sleep, the endless amounts of illness, it is like your body is slowly folding in on itself and is consuming every bit of your life. He’s a fighter but Williams also asks the question, “Can we be at war with ourselves and still find peace?” so I asked myself this question which I think every fighter has too. Being mentally stable while being destroyed by cancerous cells, chemo, and radiation is what makes you be at peace with yourself. To get past the stages of ‘why me’, ‘how could God do this to me’, and ‘how am I going to get through this’ is what will leave you at peace. I think that you have to accept this situation and choose whether or not you want to make yourself sicker to get better or if you want to live out your life the way it is and however long it last is fate.

This book reaches out to everyone who has had to deal with the death of anyone from cancer. Each sentence creates a world that is relatable and understanding. Reading someone else’s reality can often put the reader at ease with their own personal battles. I plan on taking this book with me next time I see my father so that way he can read it. He loves being able to read other peoples stories and to grasp their ways of living through this war. Even when this book is discussing the bird refuge it reaches out the those who love to protect their earth which allows for the similarity between those who are battling the disease and the battle that we as humans are fighting with mother earth.

Identity in Solar Storms

Identity in Solar Storms

Solar Storms by Linda Hogan is a stunning novel published in 1995 about the life of a young girl who is searching for her identity. Hogan uses the natural aspects of the world to help the main character, Angel, find her identity and way of life. Identity is defined as a characteristic of a persons being and being who you are or what you are. Angel finds herself being identified through the scars on her body, just like her mother was.

“One day I dropped the mirror and it broke into many pieces. For a while I kept these, looking at only the parts of my face at a time. Then I had no choice but to imagine myself, along with the parts and fragments of stories, as if it all was part of a great brokenness moving, trying to move, toward wholeness-a leg, an arm, a putting together, the way Bush put together the animal bones” (85). This passage is when Angel is showing the reader her personal feelings toward the scars and imperfections on her body. This paragraph shows the identity that Angel starts off with in the beginning of the novel. She sees herself as a girl with scars, foster homes, and no mother. But when she goes to be with Agnes and Dora, her grandmother and great grandmother, she slowly starts gaining a greater understanding of her own self.

The fight to find ones identity through nature and stories allows for this book to create a world of different events and possibilities. Angel listens to the description of her mothers body while reflecting upon her own and she is gathering the information she is longing for. Dora states, “Beneath all the layers of clothes, her skin was a garment of scars. There were burns and incisions. Like someone had written on her. The signatures of torturers, I call them now. I was overcome” (99) when Angel is hearing these horrifying things about her mother she is putting together the pieces of why she is, the way she is. For her to hear these sad things that her mother went through it fills Angel with compassion, showing the reader that this is one of her characteristics into her identity.

Angel is a seventeen year old girl, she is searching for answers, for love, and for comfort. She at first finds this comfort with Dora and Agnes but as she goes to the island with Bush she starts her journey toward becoming whole. The relationship that Angel creates with these three other women is what makes her whole as well. Their experiences are all blended and together they are a family. To be whole Angel has to not only find satisfaction with herself but also with nature. “I thought about how things on the island were all in parts like my mirror. Even the land there was broken. Perhaps that is what I went there to do, to put together all the pieces of history, of my life an my mother’s, to make something whole” (86). After this passage the story goes on to talk about how the forest is changing, the trees aren’t there anymore, and that business is becoming part of the world.

Angel goes to find her mother when she hears that she is close. She travels alone through the winter snow to a cabin where her mother has been staying. Two men answer the door and they said she was barely breathing. Hannah, her mother laid there not moving with shallow breaths. She sees the scars for the first time through her own eyes and realizes the similarities between them, not only through blood but through physical description. Angel finds her baby sister outside in a box and that is when another connection comes into play. She now has a sister and her mother was doing the same thing to her sister as she did to her. Leaving her alone, outside and in a box in the middle of winter. As Angel stood over her mother watching her die the novel quotes, “I was a woman, full and alive. After that, I made up my mind to love in whatever ways I could. I would find it in myself to love the woman who had given life to me, the woman a priest had called a miracle in reverse, the one who had opened her legs to men and participated in the same life creating act as God” (251). Angel in this scene finds herself forgiving her mother as much as she can for what she did. This creates her whole identity. All of these situations that she has gone through is what created Angel’s identity. Forgiveness, hope, family, love, and nature sculpt her new life and new identity.

 

Healthy World, Healthy Body

Healthy World, Healthy Body

The health issues within humans have become a large topic of discussion lately. The environment surrounds all human beings at all times. Therefore it makes sense that most of our health issues are coming from our surroundings. It all counteracts with each other and when we as humans are killing our environment it makes sense that it is killing us back. Rachel Carson talks a lot about the different effects of the chemicals that we are using to fight against the earth that are hurting ourselves. As I have talked about in another recent post, Cancerous Chemicals, Carson uses multiple ways of stating how we are slowly killing our bodies by trying to ‘help’ our environment.

“belief that malignant diseases can be reduced significantly by determined efforts to identify environmental causes and to eliminate them or reduce their impact. For those in whom cancer is already a hidden or a visible presence, efforts to find cures must of course continue. But for those not yet touched by the disease and certainly for the generations as yet unborn, prevention is the imperative need” (242-243).

This quote stated in Carson’s book Silent Spring is the perfect example of what we as humans need to be doing and continue doing. It is sad to think that those who have yet to be introduced to cancer do not think about their impact but it is true. Bringing out the truth is yet again the answer to most of our questions. The environment is changing every single day and we are the cause of this change. All of the little things that we do allows for the earth to move with us on the road toward the future. But moving forward can’t involve most humans to be left behind from diseases. Cancer kills millions of people every year and yet we are still not changing our ‘needs’ when it comes to larger crops, bigger plants, and ways of living.

Ken Treloar- Unsplash

“Our fragmentation of this subject cannot be our cure, because it is our disease. The body cannot be whole alone. Persons cannot be whole alone. It is wrong to think that bodily health is compatible with spiritual confusion or cultural disorder, or with polluted air and water or impoverished soil” (107).

We are never whole. Without the environment we aren’t whole. Without each other we aren’t whole. Without knowledge we aren’t whole. Berry needs to find the answer to what makes us whole. I personally need to find the answer as well. How can we be whole without demeaning each other, bringing people down, introducing chemicals, or dying. Humanities health is becoming less and less, minute by minute. I think it is extremely hard to understand fully that we are causing a lot of our health problems. Carson uses the truth toward our health mentally and Berry uses more of evidence based support. Which I find to be very helpful when it comes to the comprehension of our ecological and physical health. Berry talks about what the word health even is and it tells the reader to understand the idea that health is wholesome.

Having a healthy world will lead us into having a healthy body. Without the chemicals, pesticides, and negative environmental attitudes our wholeness would become greater. We can be happier and healthier along with keeping our environment safe and healthy as well.

The Unsettling Truth

The Unsettling Truth

“what can I do with what I know? Without at the same time asking, how can I be responsible for what I know?” (52)

An ecological crisis is what we are living in our everyday lives. Wendell Berry uses his novel The Unsettling of America to pull out the truth in an understanding yet complex way of writing. For those ignorant minds, thinking about our earth and the current crisis isn’t even an option. But for the people who care and try to educate themselves on our world and what is happening, they would understand what Berry is discussing. I along with most of the world feel that talking about humanities flaws and what we have done to this beautiful place that we live in is a hard pill to swallow. For any human being it is difficult to listen to any negative statements. Berry uses historical and scientific facts about our environment and its crisis. The quote above is precisely asking that main question, how can we use what we know to benefit the world? Meanwhile knowing what we are doing without being responsible for continuing the destruction. This large question is one that each individual has to take on themselves. One can be educated and still ruin the earth and others can know nothing yet have the common sense not to throw their trash out the window.

The Ecological Crisis as a Crisis of Character, The Ecological Crisis as a Crisis of Agriculture, and  The Agricultural Crisis as a Crisis of Culture are all linked together by this word: Crisis. A crisis is a time of serious difficulty or troubles. Our earth is undergoing huge amounts of difficulties as I am writing. Everything is link just as Berry says. Therefore, we as humans know that everything we do leads to something else occurring. He uses character to determine what we are as humans and what our role is on earth. Human beings have created this earth to be whatever they want and whatever they need. We have made high-rise buildings, parking lots, shopping malls, and homes that cover the earths floor for billions of miles. Ourselves as characters are putting one another right in the center that is our Crisis of Character.

JJ Thompson-Unsplash

The Ecological Crisis as a Crisis of Agriculture has come down to what we are doing to our own personal food. Agriculture has sustained humans since the beginning. Without the ability to farm and grow food we would never be able to survive. Eating food that comes from the earth is a beautiful thing yet, like always, we humans take it for granted. We have for some reason decided that the food isn’t being produced fast enough or in large enough quantities. Our agricultural crisis is that we are destroying the earth by using dangerous chemicals and pesticides to gain food at a faster pace. By doing this we are taking the magnificent opportunity of growing organic, nutritional, and healthy foods and throwing it down the drain. Sure we can put larger amounts of food on the shelves and gain a larger profit off of it but in the end all it is doing is killing us and the environment.

Noah Buscher-Unsplash

The Agricultural Crisis as a Crisis of Culture is the chapter in Berry’s book that I found to be most interesting. How we define culture is literally all culturally different. Culture is universal and everyone falls under their cultures characteristics. But to have an agricultural crisis to be a crisis of culture is hard to wrap our heads around. Berry states, “That is because the best farming requires a farmer- a husbandman, a nurturer- not a technician or businessman” meaning that following the original culture of agriculture is what works, not the modern way of doing things  (49). Culture is something that grows with the people within it so for agriculture to suddenly be growing into modern ways that means that the culture must grow too. It is sad to think that just because our societies are changing that the original and correct ways of doing things suddenly disappear. As a society we need to learn that efficiency isn’t what is going to get us through life, that the objects we take our time with are more important the spraying cancerous chemicals onto our foods. I feel that we need to take a step back, look at what we are doing, and understand that ‘good things come to those who wait’.

Universal Language: Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island

Universal Language: Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island

Language itself is universal. Although we may not all speak the same form or type, we all have a language. Some may have a mixture of multiple languages and that is what they consider their own. Just because I don’t understand someone else’s language doesn’t mean that theirs is wrong. I find the idea of language, words, and grammar to be extremely fascinating, especially when it came to Turtle Island. The one thing that every single person on this earth has in common is that we all live here. We all inhabit the earth and its materials and sadly we are all single handedly destroying it. Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island is his form of how humans and animals could hopefully at some point live together happily and comfortably.

The language that Snyder uses is simple yet complex and his reasoning behind it is universal. The idea that we can live in the world that we do while not killing it seems so easy when reading through the poems on each page of his collection. The book involves every single possible form of language all saying the same thing but differently. He did this so that way everyone could understand it, everyone from children, to parents, to ancestors in every culture. Everyone needed to grasp the greater meaning behind these poems and he made that possible.

Sabri-Tuzcu: Unsplash

We as human beings have the ability to understand the difficulty behind knowing the truth and the facts. and we all have the flawed characteristic of denial. Luckily we have people and authors like Gary Snyder, Rachel Carson, and Wendell Berry who have their eyes wide open when it comes to the destruction we have set upon our earth. These authors write about what is real in our world and what is happening to it because of human beings actions. But for people to listen to what they are actually putting down on the page the language has to be there. Open, front and center, and easily comprehended.

Pine Tree Tops (33)

in the blue night

frost haze, the sky glows

with the moon

pine tree tops

bend snow-blue, fade

into sky, frost, starlight.

the creak of boots.

rabbit tracks, deer tracks,

what do we know.

This poem uses short words to describe a setting around a person walking in the woods. The elements of the earth surround this person in such beauty. The earth floor has yet to be harmed by anything except for the natural creatures that live there. The last line of the poem states, “what do we know” as if it were a question but instead a statement. What do we know, everything we know is that the most beautiful things are earth are the things we as humans rarely get to see.

Two Fawns that Didn’t see the Light this Spring (58)

A friend in a tipi in the

Northern Rockies went out

hunting white tail with a

.22 and creeped up on a few

day-bedded, sleeping, shot

what he thought was a buck.

“it was a doe, and she was

carrying a fawn.”

He cured the meat without

salt; sliced it following the

grain.

 

A friend in the Northern Sierra

hit a doe with her car. It

walked out calmly in the lights,

“and when we butchered her

there was a fawn-about so long-

to tiny-but all formed and right.

It had spots. Ant the little

hooves were soft and white.”

This poem is a sad truth about life and death. We as humans have the right to kills animals for food but only under the rules that have been determined in each state. Using words like butchered, calmly, sliced, and soft are completely contradicting themselves because of the two opposite common uses of them. When Snyder uses these words together it shows both the harsh truth and the sad truth behind what we as humans do to animals whether it is on purpose or on accident.

Turtle Island uses language to portray the multiple sides of nature, human beings, and our harm to earth and its living creatures.

 

Cancerous Chemicals

Cancerous Chemicals

“For the first time in the history of the world, every human being is now subjected to contact with dangerous chemicals, from the moment of conception until death.” – Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (15)

Rachel Carson has created this deadly sentence. The bold statement of truth is scary and it makes you stop where you are and just sit in silence for a minute. Of course this may be exactly what she was intending for in her book, Silent Spring. The human body has the ability to store chemicals without causing serious amounts of harm but as the world seems to be evolving the chemicals are becoming too much to handle. Carson is consistently talking about the cause and effects of spraying no only on animals but on humans, these topics hit home and allowed me to focus in on the true impact that we are doing to ourselves.

For hundreds of years we have been spraying chemicals to try and get rid of certain pests that we don’t like and of course it is coming back to haunt every single one of us. Karma. As Carson was talking about the cancerous chemicals that are being tossed around our environment I made a serious connection. My father was diagnosed with cancer around six years ago (Multiple Myeloma) and I remember sitting in the hospital in Boston one day and listening to the doctors question his whole entire life. Everything he has ever done, where he has lived, what he lived next to, his eating styles, literally everything. All of these things that he has done is the probable cause to why he has cancer. I called him the other night and was telling him about Silent Spring when he said, “when I was little we used to run behind trucks that pumped out all of the chemicals… it was like running in a fog storm and we always loved it. Of course now I have cancer but at the time we had no idea that doing this would come back to bite us in the ass.” His statement is completely true. No one had any idea that what they were doing was going to kill them. Not being informed is just as deadly as a gun.

Carson states, “these natural cancer-causing agents are still a factor in producing malignant; however, they are few in number and they belong to that ancient array of forces to which life has been accustomed from the beginning.” The truth behind the scenes is that there always has and always will be cancer causing materials in our world, however, we are amplifying them. The human race is single handedly killing not only the world that we are lucky enough to live in but ourselves.

“We are accustomed to look for the gross and immediate effects and to ignore all else. Unless this appears promptly and in such obvious form that it cannot be ignored, we deny the existence of hazard. Even research men suffer from the handicap of inadequate methods of detecting the beginnings of injury. The lack of sufficiently delicate methods to detect injury before symptoms appear is one of the great unsolved problems in medicine.” (Carson)

I struggle with understanding how we as humans can even live with ourselves knowing that we are destroying everything we have. The quote above is what we as humans have become accustomed too. We look for the simple ways out and for the easy answers. Taking an Advil for your headache is a lot more deadly than just going to sleep and passing through the pain, but we can’t seem to take the risk of hurting even if it means we will be in more pain in the future. The question behind the destruction is, do we actually know what we are doing? Sadly, most do not have a single clue, that even the tiniest of things are ruining the great place that we get to call home. It is very clear throughout Carson’s book that more people need to be informed about the issues with our environment and what we are doing internally to ourselves.

Although changing one’s whole life around to prevent environmental damage is difficult but one person can start the train of difference in the world and within ourselves.