Monday, 30 January 2012

Happy Birthday Ed Abbey January 29 (1927)

Today is the birthday of that Reluctant Enthusiast; the Archdruid of Environmentalism; the Half-Hearted Fanatic, Ed Abbey.

Not everyone will agree but I say his work has inspired a move toward a more holistic understanding of fairness and care in the United States. Thanks to his radical views and fantastic writing abilities, millions of young americans have been inspired, supported, and even transformed into environmentalists.

I started reading his work while I was a student at Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, Vermont.  I read this poem for the first time on a Greyhound bus headed north to Maine. I was leaving a summer of sailing on SoundWaters, a little Schooner in the Long Island Sound where I had been working with an environmental education NGO. One of my shipmates had stuffed the letter into my seabag next to Abbey's 'Monkey Wrench Gang'. - It was a long letter and I found it there in my seabag in Massachusetts. I cried like a baby through Rhode Island and New Hampshire and when I finally got to Mid Coast Maine, inspired, I hiked up all the hills in Camden National Park and went right back to sea on the Morning in Maine with Bob Pratt and in pulling boats with HIOBS.

So, here is Ed Abbey's advice:

One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it's still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.
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