Monday, July 30, 2012

The Forest Unseen ~ A Year's Watch in Nature: Part II

In my previous post I shared an insight from the author of The Forest Unseen ~ A Year's Watch in Nature which I felt was relevant to the 30 Day Meditation Challenge. But I liked the book so much that I want to share a few more passages.

On the topic of declining wild forest health and the rise of the industrial (monoculture) forest David Haskell says,

The scale, the novelty, and the intensity of this change are unquestionable threats to the diversity of life in the forests. Whether or how we respond to this erosion is a moral question. Nature seemingly provides no moral guidance; mass extinction is another of her many flavors. Neither can moral questions be answered by our culture's obsession with policy think tanks, scientific reports, or legal contests. I believe that the answers, or their beginnings, are found in our quiet windows on the whole. Only by examining the fabric that holds and sustains us can we see our place and, therefore, our responsibilities. A direct experience of the forest gives us the humility to put our life and desires into that bigger context that inspires all the great moral traditions.

I was struck by this quote because I am so strongly in support of preserving our forests that to question the morality of it was surprising to me. Thankfully, the author, who is much better with words than I am, goes on to answer this riddle for me.

Can the flowers and bees answer my questions? Not directly, but two intuitions come to mind by contemplation of a multifarious forest whose existence transcends my own. First, to unravel life's cloth is to scorn a gift. Worse, it is to destroy a gift that even hardheaded science tells us is immeasurably valuable. We discard the gift in favor of a self-created world that we know is incoherent and cannot be sustained. Second, the attempt to turn a forest into an industrial process is improvident, profoundly so.

The problem with our modern forest economy lies in the unbalanced way that we extract wood from land. Our laws and economic rules place short term extractive gain over all other values. It does not have to be this way. We can find our way back to thoughtful management for the long-term well-being of both humans and forests. But finding this way will require some quiet and humility. Oases of contemplation can call us out of disorder, restoring a semblance of clarity to our moral vision. ~ David Haskell

The thoughtful and precise language in this book fed my soul. I couldn't tear through this book as I would a novel. This book is one which deserves a slow, mindful read. Many thanks to the author and to the publisher. Great book!