In his essay about the growing “re-enchantment with nature” (“World of Wonder,” Winter), William Gibson is correct in arguing that this movement is key if we are to have any success in restoring, rewilding, and reinhabiting our home places. For years I was active in the environmental movement, working on causes such as stopping clear cutting in forests, awakening people to the dangers of “free trade,” corporate greenwashing, etc. In addition to spreading information, I tried to share the magic, mystery, and spirit of Earth. This is what inspired me and I assumed it would inspire others as well. After all, we work to save what we love.
But the hardest people to convince of the importance of integrating what Gibson is calling “re-enchantment” into our work were fellow environmentalists. Even those who may have agreed with me in private were loath to put such sentiments in mission statements, brochures, or to talk about it publicly. I was told that we didn’t want to marginalize ourselves or be seen as New Age-y or irrational. In order to “win” we had to talk seriously. To discuss nature as if it had spirit or a purpose all its own was simply not done. Native people could (and did) speak out, of course, but this was expected. For the rest of us, this kind of language was unacceptable.
It is my belief that the failure to integrate a sense of enchantment into our work, and the resistance of the green movement to express emotion and personal stories have led to greater marginalization. After all, people act to defend what they love and care about.
The recent article about Ric O’Barry (“The Reluctant Warrior,” Winter), was excellent. It reminded me that Taiji, Japan isn’t the only place where dolphins are still killed for food. On the Faroe Islands, a Danish territory, people regularly hunt pilot whales and dolphins. This slaughter also deserves attention.
Edgewater, New Jersey
Today while packing up my home in preparation to depart for Thailand to begin Peace Corps service, I came across a piece of literature that had a huge impact on me. In 1989, at age 12, I read an article titled, “You Can Save the Dolphins.” It awoke in me a sense of alarm and gave me ideas for action. The spark that encouraged me to place boycott stickers on tuna cans and write to my senators has in the years since then developed into an inspiration to respect the environment and to have a strong belief in service.
I’m not sure how that article ended up in my hands 20 years ago, but I am grateful for the effect it had on my life.
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