Tuesday, April 22, 2008

every day is earth day

in honor of earth day, and to offset some of the vitriol i spewed last night, here are some of my favorite passages from terry tempest williams’ “the open space of democracy”:

Our insistence on democracy is based on our resistance to complacency. To be engaged. To participate. To create alternatives together. We may be wrong. We will make mistakes. But we can engage in spirited conversation and listen to one another with respect and open minds as we speak and explore our differences, cherishing the vitality of the struggle (11).

The Arctic is balancing on an immense mirror. The water table is visible. Pools of light gather: lakes, ponds, wetlands. The tundra is shimmering. One squints perpetually (28).

Drinking from the river—I am drinking from the river—this tincture of glaciers, this press of ice warmed by the sun. If water can pool in one’s heart, then my heart is full. My arid heart has been waiting for decades, maybe three, for the return of the childhood pleasure of drinking directly from the source (31).

Experience opens us, creates a chasm in our heart, an expansion in our lungs, allowing us to pull in fresh air to all that was stagnant. We breathe deeply and remember fear for what it is—a resistance to the unknown (32).

What will we make of the life before us? How do we translate the gifts of solitary beauty into the action required for true participatory citizenship? (42)

The open space of democracy provides justice for all living things—plants, animals, rocks, and rivers, as well as human beings (51).

Here is my question: what might a different kind of power look like, feel like? And can power be distributed equitably among ourselves, even beyond our own species? (58)

The power of nature is the power of a life in association. Nothing stands alone. On my haunches, I see a sunburst lichen attached to limestone; algae and fungi are working together to break down rock into soil. I cannot help but recognize a radical form of democracy at play. Each organism is rooted in its own biological niche, drawing its power from its relationship to other organisms. An equality of being contributes to an ecological state of health and succession (58).

We have made the mistake of confusing democracy with capitalism and have mistaken political engagement with a political machinery we all understand to be corrupt. It is time to resist the simplistic, utilitarian view that what is good for business is good for humanity in all its complex web of relationships. A spiritual democracy is inspired by our own sense of what we can accomplish together, honoring an integrated society where the social, intellectual, physical, and economic well-being of all is considered, not just the wealth and health of the corporate few (86/87).

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