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PLEASE REC IGTNT  Seven more of our young men have lost their lives in Afghanistan.  Thank you.

On June 18, 2010, David Kroning II published one of the most extraordinary diaries I have read here:  Voices for Nature.  In that diary, not only did he demonstrate a facility of knowledge and language, but also a call out to the community to speak for all species which are being destroyed or injured due to the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster.  On June 26, David reiterated his plea in A Crime Against Nature.

David challenged me to read and write about Aldo Leopold's "Thinking Like a Mountain."  I agreed -- but I fear I've lost David's ear -- his eyes.  David, this diary is for you.

Aldo Leopold (1886-1948) was not only a professor at the University of Wisconsin, he was an ecologist and a very fine writer.  His most notable work is A Sand County Almanac.  He captured the plight of many species in a remarkable essay, "Thinking Like a Mountain."  This is a reflection of Leopold's growth regarding the balance of nature -- the necessity of predators which do not contemplate total annhilation for advantage.

A deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow, and of contempt for all the adversities of the world. Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call.

Leopold writes of his youthful disregard for living things which are unlike himself.  He had yet to comprehend natural relationships and thought intervention was sport.  He and his privileged friends watched a mother wolf rise from a stream greeting her pups.  Their only thought was: kill the predator.

In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy: how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable slide-rocks.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes - something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.

Leopold distinguishes himself from the "killers" today.  He looked death in the eye, rather than heading off for a yacht race or lunch at The Palms with Congressional colleagues or lobbyists.  He thought like a mountain -- which is incomprehensible to politicians today (e.g. unable to think like the stewards of the unemployed or sea turtles or dolphins or plankton).

Leopold realized early that without balance in nature, any species can destroy -- and that includes the more adorable deer population which the wolves restrained from destruction (along with other species).  It includes humans who believe they are superior to lesser beings rather than co-inhabitants on an inter-dependent planet.

Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers.

Humans are predators:  whether we use a rifle, bow and arrow, corporate greed, negligence or our lifestyles.  Right now, it is not only the mountains which are weeping as a result of human recklessness -- loss of our sense of balance -- it is our waters, air and soils.  It wasn't a rifle that blew away the Macondo well head in the Gulf of Mexico; no, it was layers and layers of human neglect.  Neglect of vigilence.  And instead of the howl of the wolf, for which the mountains mourn, we have the keening from our seas -- the haunting call of the whales and gasps of the dolphins and sea turtles.  No sounds come from the dying of the plankton and coral.

David -- return to us.  We need a voice of brilliance to speak for the voiceless.


Originally posted to gchaucer2 on Wed Jun 30, 2010 at 03:15 PM PDT.

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