As this picture of me might indicate, I spent a lot of my youth in active defense of Mother Earth. In this particular action I locked my neck to the Washington State Federal Building to protest the Fed’s disastrous and wrongheaded logging policy that targeted the last remaining ancient forests in the state. It was a thrilling time in my life; I organized massive demonstrations and hauled myself fifty feet up in moss filled ancient trees to halt illegal logging. I joined a dirt loving community of Earthlings who knew ourselves to be connected in a great web of the life. We knew viscerally that our fate is irrevocably intertwined with the Spotted Owl and clear flowing streams. These days were super-fueled by righteous anger, but as I learned, anger only gets you so far and it is just not sustainable.
Twenty five years later, I am still a radical activist for the Earth, but now I act from a place of love rather than anger. One of the most radical acts we can take is to connect deeply with nature and see its beauty reflected within us. The word radical means to go to the root of the problem and at the root of our environmental devastation is the misconception that we are separate from nature. When we know ourselves as part of the living fabric of the universe we can’t help but treat Mama Earth, her creatures and ourselves with love and respect.
This is the reason I started Go Wild Institute. I wanted people to reclaim their place in the family of all life and act accordingly. Environmentalism, for me, does not originate from my head; It comes from a place deep inside my soul that is intimately connected with the rivers, mountains and mountain lions who are harmed by our disconnection. One problem with the Left is that we think if we give people enough knowledge about a problem, let’s say climate change or elephant extinction than people will naturally change their deep seated behavior. But here is where we are wrong.
Scientific arguments don’t generally motivate people to take action. People act when something or someone they love is being harmed; when a family member needs help; when our heartaches wake us up in the middle of the night longing to comfort terrified Syrian children fleeing their lives in a confusing violent world. We take action out of love: love for our relations in nature, love for our unborn generations, love of clear flowing rivers, love of humanity and our special role in the great web of life.
And if you are feeling overwhelmed in our current political craziness, the best remedy could be to go outside, sit quietly and let your heart fill at the first hints of spring, the new buds of the season and the knowledge that every winter passes in its own time. And if you are looking for more ways to fall in love with the Earth join me for a special Point Reyes Valentine’s Walk- Violets are Blue on February 12th.