A few days ago I was out in search of grouse for a change of pace for dinner. I hiked far and wide through the forest, just enjoying the sharp air and clear skies, and had already shot a pair, though I was hoping to bag two more for one apiece for the family at supper. It was the first time I had used a 12 gauge in a long time, but it’s an intuitive weapon, much like the longbow. Just, instead of lining up an arrowhead, you line up a bead at the end of a long barrel. And I realized I still had the knack.
I rounded a turn in the trail and encountered a straight path back in the woods where the snow had been cleared. My heart sank, for I knew what this meant–that most avaricious of vermin, second only to frackers and open pit miners: loggers!
Heart sick, I made myself pace up the trail, forgetting to even keep an eye out for telltale movement that would mark a rabbit or grouse. After a half mile, I came across what I dreaded finding: a logging machine. You see, modern loggers don’t get in the woods with chainsaws and axes anymore–those days are long gone. That would require hard work and be too slow. There’s $$$ to be made! So now they go into the woods with massive vehicles like tanks that can simply bulldoze over the biggest of trees. With giant robotic claws these machines simply grasp trees and rip them from the Earth, slice off the roots and branches with a couple sweeps of massive grinding blades, and drop them like corpses to be plucked up by equally monstrous super trucks. This machine was in the thick of a beautiful and rare patch of old growth forest. It had been chewing it down like some hungry demon of the Chthulian mythos.
But it was quiet just now, the machines off, and no one around. The sun sank low and the day grew ever colder and darker, with nothing but the biting wind for company. I just stood there, though, unable to wrap my mind around what I was seeing–the utter disdain for the ancient, fragile living thing that is an old forest. The consummate greed that would look at trees that had stood here since first colonists and see only dollars in the winding of those ancient trunks.
I regarded my small shoulder pack, which still held a half dozen shotgun shells, a few supplies, and the carcasses of a brace of grouse. I got to thinking of all the well meaning people on FaceBook posting about how terrible it is to hunt, to farm meat, to frack, to cut down the rain forest for MacDonalds and parking lots, to create pit mines for coal and dump toxic waste in the ocean. And I realized how pointless all their bemoaning was. All those people out there . . . all of you . . . all of us! How pointless and arrogant.
I had just killed two grouse for dinner. I knew if I wrote about it, someone in some city somewhere–in fact, a lot of someones–would write to tell me how terrible I was to kill and eat these birds. But here was a whole living, breathing, irreplaceable woodland being ripped up without remorse so that all those griping people could have biomass to fire the power plants that maintain their artificial and unsustainable lifestyles. And so many of them pointing the finger at big corporations, at at big government, hell, even at hunters taking game within the law, as I was doing. It is like saying gluttony is bad while devouring a twenty course meal. It is like telling a child it’s bad to play with fire while torching a house. It is deepest hypocrisy.
If any real change in this world is to happen, if we are to make it greener and better and kinder, it means turning the pointing finger around. Instead of pointing outward and saying, “So-and-so is wrong!”, point it inward and ask yourself, “What are you doing?” Because, you see, corporations and big governments just meet the demand you create. What are you doing? What can you change? And if you refuse to do this, and thereby change how you live, then without question you are the root of their combined evils. For whether or not you realize it, it is for you, in the end, that that forest fell–to feed your power plants, provide your computer’s power so you could blather on FaceBook, power your TV so you could watch Game of Thrones. Indeed, the next time you jump on a plane and travel halfway around the world to visit friends, remember that your ticket is what caused that airline to need fuel, which caused fracking companies to tear up the land and pollute the water–for your want. Not for your need . . . for your want. And if you refuse to consider this and do something about how you live, then you are the root of the problem. Big government and big corporations, fracking and pit mining and GMO and all those other things–they are just the symptoms of the illness that you create.
The things we do in life have consequences like dominoes. We do a thing, and if it is good, good things come of it. If it is unwise, bad things come of it. If we choose to live poorly, a cascade of dominoes fall. It is the conundrum of the kingdom falling for the horseshoe nail. It is the truth that that forest fell not for a big corporation or a big bad government. That forest fell for you. What will you do to make it so that another forest does not have to fall?