Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Wild Places

I don't pretend to be an environmentalist.  Someone recycling cans could probably fund college through what I throw away.  I'm not going to make excuses for this; I'm too lazy to make the effort.  I remember listening to Rush Limbaugh on his radio broadcasts, where, during the event that has been called "Earth Hour," where everyone is supposed to turn off their lights for an hour to preserve energy / pay homage to "The Earth" (as if our power is some sort of ritual lamb were supposed to slaughter), Rush tells people he's gonna turn on all his lights.  I agree with him... I'd go buy those flood lights that rotate in the sky and pay a huge electric bill that month.  I really wouldn't do that, but I don't agree with the idea in the first place.  In fact, the whole idea of Environmentalism is about as complex as you can get.  If you would ask me my top 10 books, easily among them would be Henry David Thoreau's Walden.  Simply give me a log cabin out in the woods someplace, next to a river (and if I ever win the lottery, I've got one picked out), and an ultra-fast line to the Internet, and I'm all set.  I'll sit and watch the ants gather food for their hills.  You see, there's a distinct difference in loving Nature, wanting to treasure and relish in the glorious things of this world, and being an Environmental Activist.

I guess it goes back to political ideologies. It concerns how we want to govern our lives, how we see our contract with those who would govern over us.  Our relationship with our fellow man. At its core, Environmentalism is a genuine concern for our planet, with maintaining the beauty and wonder of the planet we live in.  While walking the trails at the SRCP (South Rockdale Community Park), along the South River, I've seen many empty beer cans, other pieces of trash, even a bag of Legos spilled out on the ground.  And at times, I've noticed the water itself has a green tinge that is probably caused by pollution upriver in Atlanta.  I am not saying that the SRCP and the South River are junky.... it is truly beautiful, as the pictures I've taken show.  It would take very little for volunteer groups to pick up what little trash is there.  It would take so little to recycle cans, to conserve water...etc...  We use a large bucket to collect the water that comes out of the compressor in our air conditioning system.  We could, if we had a garden, use it to water the plants and save on using water out of the hose.  It makes complete sense... except we don't have a garden to do that with.

The problem with Environmentalism lies in how you handle the problem.  Companies like Disney, who created a  "Friends for Change" program on TV, have used private funding to promote volunteer work from their clients.  Excellent job! Through individual efforts, so much can be done to promote conservation of our resources...etc...  However, it's when people decide that government regulation of large corporations and commercial regulations of such things as light bulbs, that I start to object.  At this point, the power is taken away from the individual and put in the hands of bureaucrats in the government.  It ceases to be about caring about the planet we live on and more about money, power, and status.  Environmentalists become identical to the private corporations they seek to drain power from.  And then I get turned off by the whole thing and start agreeing with the bombastic statements that Rush Limbaugh uses against the Environmental movement.

The Paradox comes into play here.  By that I mean the Libertarian paradox that states that limited government is ideal when the "ideal" is followed.  If every private corporation instituted measures to protect the environment, preserve resources...etc..., then no regulation would be necessary.  However, not every business is going to operate by what is right, as the desire for profit at the expense of those they are responsible to (including the customers, the Earth, their stockholders), will overcome the reasoning for self-regulation.  Thus the government is needed to assume such actions.  And it drives me nuts!  Because almost every issue runs up against the Paradox when "ideals" are brought to the table. I return to Thoreau at this point, reading his essay on Civil Disobedience, especially the last two paragraphs.  Well worth the look.

Now, jumping to my walks down the trails of the SRCP.  A song kept coming into my head, one by Peter, Paul, and Mary.  In 1982, they self-published a live concert album titled Such Is Love.  I originally found it in a used music store located by my grandmother's house in Oklahoma City. The cassette had never been opened, but what music it contained!  One of the tracks was "Wild Places."  It brings together the idea of protecting the Environment,


living along side the beautiful works that God made on this globe, and the idea that doing so is an act of devotion.  For the very fact that such beauty exists in this world, outside of our influence, is an argument that God created this aesthetically pleasing place for someone to enjoy.  Namely, us.  If we cannot take care of it, then it was a wasted effort on his part.  And since I know that this is a fallacy, since God is outside of time and error, then He expects us to enjoy the beauty He has given us.  And what better way than to walk down the trails of this land and witness the beauty of nature, as well as the monumental objects we have placed on this Earth.  I always get this feeling that we need to make God "proud" of us.  For He must have pride in those He loves (and by the fact that we were made in HIs image, we must have pride in the objects we create.)

The duplicate beauty of the trails I've walked is that it contains both God- and Man-made wonders.  Taking a scene from literature, Howard Roarke, in The Fountainhead stands on the hill outside of the architecture school and visualizes the magnificence he can create from simply the clay and rock around him.  A marvelous first scene of any book, in my opinion.  We create things on this Earth for our own convenience, and if we do this in a method which preserves the natural beauty of the world, or even enhances it, then we have used our talents in ways that God would approve.  We have created objects in our world that are good, just as He created this world.   So whenever I cross the hill and see towering before me the power lines that stretch to the far horizon, it is beautiful to me.  If only other people could see the aesthetics that I see.

On a related note, an article in Yahoo showed an design from Meridian 105 Architecture that would work perfectly with my idea of an apartment building that would conserve space and allow people to live in balance with Nature, with Commercial space below ground, and Educational and Religious structures in a vastly increased green space that would be created from the destruction of unneeded current buildings.  Check out more designs here!

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