Friday, November 06, 2015

life without principle

Yesterday I posted on the state of the forests. Thoreau, in his essay Life without Principle said the following:
If a man walk in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer; but if he spends his whole day as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making earth bald before her time, he is esteemed an industrious and enterprising citizen. As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!
 I was saddened to hear that National Geographic Magazine has been sold to Fox News and will be under the thumb of Rupert Murdoch. He has a way of utilizing his business properties to distort the truth. In the meantime, National Geographic has been doing some honest reporting on global warming and its effects on forests world wide. The image above is from the magazine and shows a large lignite coal mine in Germany that mines 22 million tons a year and may do so for many years to come. When asked how long the coal mining will go on, a young engineer answered "Very long, I hope. We have enough lignite." And of course, the mining of coal and burning of other fossil fuels is sufficient to shift the climate in ways that will be damaging to human life. Children raised through schooling that leaves them bored and disconnected is a good thing from an industrial standpoint in which people care much more for money than for beauty. A culture of that kind needs industrialized stooges to carry forth in the destruction of planetary resources.

The lignite originally came from ancient forests, compressed underground over millions of years into carbon, thereby sequestering it from the atmosphere. The mining laid waste to the forests and the carbon sequestered beneath those forests, when burned is thence released into the atmosphere to disastrous effect. Had these thousands of acres and billions of tons been left undisturbed, there would have been trees still at work making the planet more inhabitable, not less so. The enormity of the scale of destruction would have been stressful for Thoreau. Have you had spent enough time in schooling to have become immune to feelings about nature and the environment? Each night here in our woods I hear the sound of a barred owl, and last night coyotes. Have you ever heard a coyote before?

I dislike being so ugly on this issue. But schooling has become an industrializing agent in human culture. It is easy for those who've not formed connections to nature, for those who have been purposely sequestered from it, to act as agents in its destruction, and man's as well.

Life without principle is one of Thoreau's finest essays, in which he asks: "Let us consider the way in which we spend our lives." I ask whether we will spend it bent on the exercise of creative powers or to stand powerless in the path of destruction?

On a related subject, a teacher's resignation letter has gone viral on Facebook. It's worth a read.
It points out the inhumane situation that teachers and students face in our industrialized system of education. Children, particularly the youngest, should be caring for animals, making things, planting gardens and learning their important role in the preservation of the planet and its resources.

Make, fix, create, and insist that others learn likewise.

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