In an excerpt from the 1962 fictional “Fire on the Mountain” Edward Abbey wrote:
“You know, a man came out to see me one day, said he was from the Range Management Bureau. He saw these here yuccas and he asked what they were good for… ‘I’m a patient old fool,’ Grandfather said. ‘I told him the Indians made baskets out of the leaf fibers, used the stalks for fences and shade, and made good medicine out of the flowers. Always saving plenty of yuccas for future use, of course.’ But the man said to me, ‘We got paper and cellophane and cardboard now, who needs a basket?’ He said, ‘You don’t need shade now, you go indoors and turn on the air conditioner when it’s hot.’ And he said, ‘As for medicine you get all you need in Juarez for five dollars a gallon.’ ‘He won the argument’ Grandfather said, ‘but he lost his immortal soul.”
All these decades later in the non fictional world, has our love of paper, cellophane, cardboard, air conditioning and drug store pharmaceuticals, not to mention our addiction to fossil fuels further separated us from our immortal souls and the lands that used to nourish them? Is it the reason we are willing to trade our air quality, water quality and quantity, our plant and animal communities, and the beauty of the wildlands around us for the sake of oil and gas exploration?
Are we letting the powerful corporations and the politicians who side with them win the argument that big money, big profit and big power are more important than our immortal souls and the protection of the planet? I think that is the road down which we have been led and, like mythical lemmings, we are following the ones in front and do not see the cliff ahead until we have gone one step beyond the ledge.
How might we stop following those leading us over the ledge? As a united body of residents we say NO. We say WAIT. We say STUDY. And we don’t stop saying it until we are heard.
We try to slow down the process, slow down our run-away consumerism, slow down our addictive appetites for fossil fuels, and we push to find a better way to run the planet. We start at home. We unite. We don’t let Moab become the next oil patch. We don’t build man-camps for the workers that come from out of the area. We stop buying the lie that they know best. We stop losing the argument. We reclaim our souls.