Thursday, September 8, 2011

Going "Widdershins"

"...the fifty-thousand-year-long tale of humanity is the growing reach of Man's will over wild things, of taking wild things and turning them into more and more human things. It is the taming, the domestication, the homogenization of the world--and of Earthlings of all kinds. It is the steady, now overwhelming wave from wild things to humans and human-willed things.

"The ethical challenge for humanity--as a species and as individuals--is to step back and let the being of wild things be, to go widdershins so that wild things and their self-willed Earth grows and man-willed parts become smaller.

" we have an obligation to future generations of all living things? The question is wrong-headed. It begins with the thought that we have the right to trash, ransack, plunder, and shrink the world and its wild things to mere stuff and gobble them up--unless someone can show us otherwise. It puts the burden of proof on those wild things, on that tomorrow, not on us today. That is unjust.

"Our asking should instead begin on the bedrock that we of course have an obligation to wild things of all species, today and tomorrow, to honor their intrinsic value and thus to act only in ways that keep whole the beauty, integrity, and stability of Earth. Those who want out of that obligation will have to fully show how it is okay to snuff life for short-term, selfish ends. This shifts the burden of proof in a strong and mindful way. Those who would shatter life will have to show in a deep, wide way why this careless, carefree, uncaring behavior is good. That will be hard--so hard--to do."

--Dave Foreman

As found in Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson. (Trinity University Press, 2010)