“Paid Gladiators” or Unpaid Peacemakers:There Must Be a Better Way
But, the fighting goes on and accelerates infrequency and intensity. The people, our sense of community, and the forest are bruised and battered in the process. The gladiators never tire of the fight – it is what they do. The fight itself provides their sustenance. I detect, however, that many concerned about forests we collectively own have long since approached exhaustion.
That may be good news, for with exhaustion, there may come a willingness to seek an answer to the statement made earlier, “There must be a better way.”
That better way can be built on new knowledge and past experiences and on changes in personal and societal concepts. And, that better way can be embraced because the old way has led us to a place where we cannot stand for long.
Shakespeare said (Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2) “…the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…”
If the fault lies within us, the solution also resides in us as well.
Jack Ward Thomas, (1992, in Forest Management Approaches on the the Public’s Lands: Turmoil and Transition) here.
I was reflecting on Dr. Martin Luther King and what he might think of our natural resource situation. I was also thinking of the dangers of partisanizing these issues and what happens when we consider people with different views “the other”; not to be spoken to, but to have their moral character questioned. I hope in some small way this blog helps have a safe discussion about some of these issues.
At the same time, I was speaking to an associate who was going to DC this week. I asked him about the objections rule and where it was. He said to me something along the lines of “why don’t you write your elected officials and ask them to ask the Chief where it is?”
This was a bit of a shock to me. After 32 years of federal service, including a year working for Congresswoman Carrie Meek of Florida, I realized that I had adapted to my role in the understory of policy. Now I had been released (to put it into silvicultural parlance, as this definition here) but was I responding to the freedom and the nutrients and light? Not really.
From my time with Congresswoman Meek, I remember how seriously constituents were taken. So I went on the web and wrote two notes to my two senators, basically asking where the objections rule is (given that Congress asked for it in the Approps Bill last year). It probably took me all of 15 minutes to write it. I made the discovery that one of my senators has a category for natural resources/public lands and the other did not, I had to file it under “environment”..which I found interesting (I am saving my Representative for working with OPM should I run into problems with my annuity, so that’s why I didn’t contact his office).
What my associate opened my eyes to is that I don’t need to have or be an organization, I just need to be an active constituent. When I worked with the Forest Service, I often had to answer questions posed by various Congressional staffs either at the behest of industries (ski or energy, generally) or environmental NGO’s. But this is open to regular people as well. And groups of regular people with ideas. I don’t think we’ve had as much of that as we could, and if we depend on our elected officials to reach across the aisle, well, let’s just say that we might not have the desired results as expeditiously as we might otherwise. That, to me, would be the power of local collaborative groups, but also the power of each one of us.
“Unpaid peacemakers” arise! And through kindness and understanding, let us make beat the swords into some riparian remediation implement.