Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Small Wonder

It seems I always find myself re-reading my "personal philosophy" books at the end of the year. Perhaps this is just a good time to reaffirm my personal values, what's important to me, how I want to live my life, as we face a new year and new beginnings. Having Faith and Easy to Love are two such books, and this is a third. It's by Barbara Kingsolver, and it's a collection of essays that are beautifully written and passionately argued, all about why we should care about things like genetic engineering and heirloom plants, or why we should think carefully about war as a solution to violence. As the quote on the front says, it's "A passionate invitation to readers to be a part of the crowd that cares about the environment, peace, and family." And as I mentioned, it helps me remember how important certain things are and helps me feel galvanized for the new year, to keep these things prioritized in my life and in my growing family. This is one of my all-time favorite books as well.

A couple of quotes I like to keep in mind follow. There would be more, and maybe a more comprehensive set, if it weren't for the fact that my husband needs the computer in a minute. =)

Page 39: "What we lose in our great human exodus from the land is a rooted sense, as deep and intangible as religious faith, of why we need to hold on to the wild and beautiful places that once surrounded us. We seem to succumb so easily to the prevailing human tendency to pave such places over, build subdivisions upon them and name them The Willows, or Peregrine's Roost, or Elk Meadows, after whatever it was that got killed there....Barry Lopez writes that if we hope to succeed in the endeavor of protecting natures other than our own, 'it will require that we reimagine our lives...It will require of many of us a humanity we've not yet mustered, and a grace we were not aware we desired until we had tasted it.' And yet no endeavor could be more crucial at this moment. Protecting the land that once provided us with our genesis may turn out to be the only real story there is for us. The land still provides our genesis, however we might like to forget that our food comes from dank, muddy earth, that the oxygen in our lungs was recently inside a leaf, and that every newspaper or book we may pick up...is made from the hearts of trees that died for the sake of our imagined lives."

Page 248-9: "Most of the time I go right on growing tomatoes and basil and broccoli simply because they are good, we like them...I do it because the world has announced to me, loudly, that it's time to make a choice between infinite material entitlement or a more modest, self-reliant security, and this is a step I can take in the right direction."

Page 262: "Every time I read an argument justifying further oil drilling in sensitive places, I notice that it begins with the caveat, 'Unless Americans are wiling to accept a drastic lifestyle change.' As if that were the one thing that could never happen. As if many new kinds of shortage weren't already on the docket, scheduled for arrival, period, before my kids get to be my age. Scientists have been trying gently to remind us that the 'fossil' in fossil fuel is not a metaphor or a simile. That oil is going to dry up eventually, and no political voodoo can indocue dinosaurs or prehistoric fern forests to lie down and press themselves into more ooze for us on the timetable we require."

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