The purpose of this "blog" is to make my essays that have been
published online accessible in one place. Current essays are on
top and older pieces farther down, though they are not presented
in strict chronological order. The postings or "blog archive" list
serves as a kind of index. Since most of my essay links were posted
at once in May of 2009, click "2009" under the blog archive column
and a list of essays will appear. Each essay is briefly described and a
link provided.

My formative writing experiences were as a grassroots organizer
and activist in campaigns to make polluters accountable. I wrote
newsletters, pamphlets, press releases, op-ed pieces, and statements
to be read at hearings, debates, and panel discussions. I did hundreds
of interviews for outlets as diverse as NPR, CBS, BBC, and CNN.

During this time I was also a library manager and administrator.
Although one might not suspect so, the role of the librarian and
the role of the activist share much in common. Effective activists
provoke public dialog. Effective librarians invite such dialogue.
Although they employ different methods, the ends are the same.

Eventually, I wrote two books about my political adventures,
Canaries on the Rim: Living Downwind in the West (Verso,
1999) and Hope's Horizon: Three Visions for Healing the
American Land(Island/Shearwater, 2004).

We spent the last two centuries learning how Nature can create wealth.
We will spend the next century learning how Nature creates health.
Ultimately, as we learn to live in reciprocal and sustainable
relationship with the ecosystems that sustain us, we will replace
the cultural language of wealth that both expresses and guides our
behavior today with a new language of health.

I am not talking here about mere words. I mean the way we see the
world, the way we express our values, and the way we make choices
together. The difference between those two ways of seeing and being
in the world are profound.

Wealth says more; health says enough.
Wealth says accumulate;
health says flow. Wealth says compete and win; health says
reciprocate, integrate, reconcile. Wealth says manage and
measure; health says jam and dance. Wealth assigns value; health
assumes it. Wealth adds, subtracts, and divides; health makes whole.

To learn this new language, we begin by listening. When we translate
what we learn into behaviors, we are practicing what I call ecological
citizenship. Ultimately, the health of our natural/physical
environment is directly related to the vitality of our civic
environment. And if you dig deeper, environmental crises are
also about our disconnection from nature and from each other.
And so we confront not only entrenched powers and their
destructive interests, but a culture that enables us, even
encourages us, to think and feel and act as if we live apart from
nature. As I try to explain in the essays that follow, nature is
embedded in us as we are embedded in the ecosystems that sustain us.

Chip Ward

moonbolt3@hotmail.com

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Holy War on Nature

Left Behind: Bush's Holy War on Nature

This essay may seem dated as the first part describes the awful, even hostile, environmental record of the Bush adminsitration, but it is also about the theological/cultural underpinnings of those policies. The Republican base today still shares those fundamental beliefs, and so it is still current in that way. It found a wide-ranging audience on the Internet and obviously struck a nerve.

I have often said that environmental issues are really about democracy, and that the health and vitality of one's physical/natural environment are directly related to the health and vitality of one's civic environment. That's true. To be effective, environmental advocates must build a democratic culture so that the decisions we make about what we allow into our air, water, and soil - decisions that get translated into flesh, blood, bone, and experience - are made in ways that are open, inclusive, informed, and accountable. But in a deeper sense, these issues are also cultural. Do you believe we humans were given dominion over creation to use as we please, or do you see humans embedded in nature as nature is embedded in us?

The essay first appeared at tomdispatch.com but the link is to the essay as it appeared at The Nation. http://www.thenation.com/article/left-behind-bushs-holy-war-nature

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