Revisiting ‘Conservation Today’
What would change if we understood natural lands as more important to us than electricity and cell phones, as crucial to us as clean water and air?
While most people view ACRES’ work positively, they may also consider land preservation as optional. What would change if we understood natural lands as more important to us than electricity and cell phones, as crucial to us as clean water and air? I share the deep concern addressed by ACRES founder, James Barrett III, in his 1964 Quest Club paper, that we do not see as critical to our well-being the land we rely on for our very lives.
Barrett asks us probing questions, then offers an ethical response inextricably linking our own health to the health of Earth:
“We once feared nature because we could not protect ourselves from her. Do we now fear her because of what she tells us? Are we afraid to admit we are not self-sufficient, that we live together on this earth with all of life and are bound to observe the conditions under which life exists? Do we fear to acknowledge that, despite our immense differences…we are still more like, than different from, any other form of life we know…?”
Barrett urges us to “temper our power with our respect for the life we do not understand and did not create, but with which we share this earth…that on its health rests our own. Our own numbers and power…demand we expand our ethical conscience to include the land and the life it supports.”
“By the moral act of preserving the remnants of wilderness with which we are still blessed…we may yet become persuaded to respect the living communities of the earth to which we belong, and ourselves as an integral part of them. Then we will seek the principles of an ethic…for living with all nature—and will cherish the privilege of doing so.”
I believe when we understand our relationship with and crucial reliance on natural lands, we will discover great joy in their proper care.
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