Welcome to the Archive of The Carrboro Citizen Logo Image

LETTER: External alarms

“Man has too long forgotten that the earth was given to him for usufruct alone, not for consumption, still less for profligate waste.” So begins the censure of man’s destructiveness by George P. Marsh dating back to the earliest part of the 20th century. Two hundred species are extinguished each day. Think for just a minute about your physical composition. Are you somehow disconnected from the myriad probiotic, semi-autonomous system-of-systems that is steadily engaged in your organismal upkeep? I would argue that this exsanguinous conquest is providing ample evidence for why it is essential to alter our modern mode of existence, immediately.
Do you realize that your brain is comprised of billions of nervous cells, a series of electrically excitable, physically interconnected and interdependent modules of operation? Enjoyment, motion, endurance, cooperation, sadness, apathy, discourse and intercourse – all preceded by an unprecedented cascade of brain activity that “time stamps” each and every moment as unique, fragile – both memorial and ever-fading. One could make the argument that some of these brain states, just like a more physical consciousness (e.g., pain, fatigue) are an indication of our spiritual tolerance for an environment. So we have a culture that medicates our lack of spiritual tolerance. Depressed? Take this pill – or maybe anxious? Try this one. Rather than treating these conditions as a hypersensitivity to the toxicity of the environment we treat these conditions as isolated events, disconnected from the world at large. It is a statement that speaks volumes of our inability to “strike at the root [of evil],” as Thoreau would say.
So our culture is rapidly unbalancing a fine chemical equilibrium that nature has worked eons to establish. We are internalizing numerous alarms that are screaming for us to act. What are these external alarms? Maybe it is poverty? Maybe it is the devastation of formerly vast lands and the climate problem? Maybe it is the erosion of soil quality and agribusinesses’ role in short-term solvency? Maybe it is the fact that air and water quality is a seriously debated campaign platform? All of these, I think, are indications of our present inability to call Earth our home, a recognizable community. As we continue to ignore the external consequences of blatant irresponsibility, new and potentially more violent alarms will evolve. When will we learn that our health is tied to the health of this land? When we put our faith in private property and escape to our insular vignettes it is unsurprising that we experience a private despair, a longing to find purpose in our destructive selfishness.

James H. Myers
Chapel Hill

Comments are closed.