Essay on Wendell Berry's
Preserving WIlderness
Environmental Ethics
By: David

Existence, by definition is: reality as opposed to appearance, reality as

presented in experience, the totality of existent things, and being with respect to

a limiting condition or under a particular aspect. With this in mind, is it not a

balanced comprehension to understand that humanity is not the center of

existence, but simply a different, cognitive observer of reality, as defined

through our individual and collective consciousness? Humanity has taken many

tangent roads away from the harmonious journey this world still allows us. It is a

mystery and great hope as to the balancing of such harmony, that humans

might at last understand the integral, processional fluidity that is this Earth. It is

with this in mind, that I respond to Wendell Berry's centered approach

between Nature Extremists and Technology Extremists.

"We live in a wilderness, in which we and our works occupy a tiny space

and play a tiny part. We exist under its dispensation and by its tolerance." What

exists in a wilderness, what is present in its finest beginning? Trees, plants, the very

breath sustaining forces most every creature needs to exist upon this world.

The creatures, the bugs, the rivers and streams, all systematic to a process that

has grown and developed for countless millennium. This process does not cease

at the forest edge, but continues through the soil and around the sky. The air we

breathe, the water we drink, the sustenance created of the world, for the world,

acts and reacts to all effects, be they balanced or imbalanced.

"This wilderness, the universe, is somewhat hospitable to us, but it is also

absolutely dangerous to us (it is going to kill us, sooner or later), and we are

absolutely dependent upon it." Our choices on this plane of existence are

limited to our comprehensions to the entirety of all existence. This is to say that

capability may some day allow for a greater awareness into the clarity of space

and dimension, but in our immediate circumstances, in the responsibility of our

localities of dwelling, we must remember that humanity is yet a speck in the

entire universe, while at the same time having the conscious cognitive

capability to understand that the grain of sand we might be, is as well, allowed

the knowledge of the whole picture. With this knowledge, greater responsibility

exists, and in our present standing, we may need to dig ourselves out of the

ground before we can reseed into great fertility this capacity. The danger lies in

not understanding why and how. The cycles exist, we are apart of them and

have the capability to observe and define them as well. This understanding of

the process, however, has not stopped our daunting mentalities to sway from

harmonizing functionality whereas we create chaos as order, instead of fluidity

in chaos. It is not impossible.


"That we depend upon what we are endangered by is a problem not

solvable by "problem solving." It does not have what the nature romantic or the

technocrat would regard as a solution. We are not going back to the Garden of

Eden, nor are we going to manufacture an Industrial Paradise." Dependence is

defined as reliance and/or trust. In the evolving state of our comprehensive

capabilities we often attempt to throw money at problems of the mind when all

that was really needed was a clarity into the adaptability of humanity,

harmoniously, into a natural system. Albeit, sometimes functionality, or the

undoing of dysfunctional process does take funding, it is the fundamental logic

of the individual that will inevitably decide the fate of their "space." If it is a

collective of people, it will be the collective (or very well should be.) It is only by

the ideologies of Absolutism that would cross this otherwise, and we do find

ourselves delicately close to the edge of that plight in our day to day lives.

Nevertheless, it is always the individual who has the choice,

and it is this choice that will ultimately decide the fate of our individual spaces,

and parallel, the collective spaces, beyond our own.

"There does exist a possibility that we can live more or less in harmony with

our native wilderness; I am betting my life that such a harmony is possible. But I

do not believe that it can be achieved simply or easily or that it can ever be

perfect, and I am certain that it can never be made, once and for all, but is the

forever unfinished lifework of our species." The possibilities of individuality seem

limitless to the creative mind, yet to the logical individual, most likely, perfection

is not a limitless feature, but one of satisfaction to an end, yet still defined

through comfortability as released from suffering. Think of this from an Earthen

Consciousness...not to anthropomorphize Earth disrespectfully, but for human

consideration into the mindset of human emotion and thought process: if one

was Earth, a living being nonetheless, capable of housing more life than any

other planet we know, in all Her glorious adaptability and evolution, She came

to a deciding moment in existence where She had to choose whether

continuity was Hers...or ours...what would She do? First of all, if Earth dies,

everything dies, and if humanity is the cause of this, it seems solutions are

few and far between...either stop killing Earth, or we all die. Pretty simple. And

although greed and domestication have caused a huge rift in the harmonious

responsibility of humanity, we still do not feel as though we are beyond

the edge of fertility. Although we draw ever closer to these doldrums

with every breath.

"It is not possible (at least, not for very long) for humans to intend their

own good specifically or exclusively. We cannot intend our good, in the long run,

without intending the good of our place-which means, ultimately the good of

the world." As well, it is the strength of individuality that could be our savior from

the incapable, changeless mindsets who give our option-less world

predetermined option. It is without justifiable merit and loosely pacified

establishment that our rights be categorized and logged between law, order,

and chaos. That in our domesticated trance of bewilderment we have allowed

our rule(s) as a society, dictated into absolute irresponsibility towards the

individual, while simultaneously allowing for the destruction of life-rendering

systems of existence. While logic amplifies the need for morality and protection,

it does not do so through the responsibility of respect as understood through a

reality of experience. We are all hypocrites in this right. If we could ask the world,

She might even say so in great compassion, like a Mother would,

"I love you, but how could you?"

That, as a collective, we have totally failed is an incomplete truth. We still exist,

the Earth still exists, even if She is riddled within an encompassment of metal

debris from Her very core elements; floating about like a fluid steel cage of

technological disarmament. We are alive, and we want continuity, and there

is no cost to this, for we began without technology, and survived just the same.

We create debt to pay debt, but there is no Earthen ATM Machine to pay our

dues. All we have is our energy, and it is Her own, as well.

"To use or not to use nature is not a choice that is available to us, we can

live only at the expense of other lives. Our choice has rather to do with how and

how much to use. This is not a choice that can be decided satisfactorily in

principle or in theory; it is a choice intransigently impractical. That is, it must be

worked out in local practice because, by necessity, the practice will vary

somewhat from one locality to another. There is, thus, no practical way that we

can intend the good of the world; practice can only be local." This flows directly

with, and in parallel to, a comprehensive, individuality logic; that logically, the

individual has the responsibility for their space. Wherever that may be,

regardless of who or where or why, the individual field of energy we inhabit is our

responsibility, and does not go without saying that this includes in degree and

collective, the space of the individual subconscious, the person, the home, the

city, the state, the country, the world, the solar system, the universe, the

multiverse, the consciousness, and all energy of all existence and in between.

Regardless of principle or belief, it is our responsibility and right to harmonize with

the chaos that is our order. The very chaos we seek to control through order.

Control is not order. One definition of "order" is : the state of peace, and the

freedom from confused or unruly behavior. The order we exist within as an entire

world society is not working. Humans kill each other, humans are currently killing

Earth; this is complete hypocrisy to order! The individual must first understand

with great respect to what chaos and order actually is before falling prey to the

Absolutism of the control of order. Otherwise, it is through incredulous hardship

shall their individual experience become, once awareness into these rights of

existence unveil through their natural chaotic order. It is through this awareness

of the Self that an actual stewardship might be accomplished. For it is the only

true way, like a pebble thrown to water, that the individual might allow this

exacting respect, the circle of existence.


"If there is no escape from the human use of nature, then human good

cannot be simply synonymous with natural good." Synonymous is defined as:

alike in meaning or significance. Humanity has the capability to cause great

significance, Nature. Nature has the capability to cause great significance,

humanity. It is between these realities we may cause great significance,

Existence. This can be allowed, just as the pebble being thrown into the pond, a

ripple effect. This can be on an individual scale and may, as well, go beyond to

a collective scale to as few or as many that might be effected by harmony.

Have you ever experienced the perfection of harmony when it grows? Vocally,

one voice to two voices, to three, and five, and eight, and thirteen, and so on,

when it is harmonized and continuous, the amplification causes incredible

reactions to the feeling of the physical body. Plants have been tested on this

fact as well, as have ice crystals. The result is always one in great clarity, a

response synonymous with the feeling of love or sustenance. Harmony: an

energized vibrational breath song...accomplished from an individual respect to

a collective respect, a singularity light as paralleled to another, and so on.

Nature seeks nothing but allowance. Humanity seeks nothing but allowance. Is

this synonymous or a paradox? It is only synonymous if Nature is allowed the

same respect we give or need to give ourselves. Nature in turn will allow us just

as much respect. In this way it is good. In this way it is synonymous.


Understanding the world is much like understanding the Self. In fact, the

parallels are impossible to deny. The world is a living organism, a system of

processes and frequencies that cause and effect us individually, existence.

Understanding humanity is not so difficult either, collectively, humanity is like

children fighting over an invisible toy, the space between spaces. What we

want and what we need are very different from the respect we seek from the

world we devour. If we do at once decide that Earth is an actual part of our

family, the one SHE allows existence, than we might find the fluidity of continuity

we have always desired: peace and evolution. Although technology is an

important endeavor to this accomplishment, it is not without consequence, and

should always be respected as an individual who respects her world. That

respect is forthwith parallel from their beginning: Nature to Technology,

Technology to Nature, their harmony will have continuity. It is not so difficult to

understand that causing respect will allow respect, and as well, will preserve the

circle of life that is crucial to the health of all involved. This includes every living

entity, and should be comprehended respect until this individuation has

receded from respect and harmonized functionality. At that exact moment,

balance must be clarified with great respect to the entire circle of life.



Quotes and inspiration from:

Berry, Wendell. "Preserving Wilderness." In American Earth:
Environmental Writing since Thoreau. Ed. Bill McKibben.
New York: Library of America, 2008. 516-530.