Saturday, 12 January 2013

Silent Spring

At Christmas this year, it was abundantly clear that I was back studying the environmental sciences: my presents included a swish pair of binoculars, some wellie stickers, wellie socks, wellie holders (I know, I didn't know they existed either), and the book Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson.

I'd asked for this book from my grandparents. It's one of those juggernauts of a book that was hugely influential when it was written, changing a lot of people's ideas about agriculture, ecology and conservation. It riffs on the idea of spring falling silent, as hundreds of birds die during the late 50s and early 60s, from poisining due to accumulations of pesticides in the food chain. I guess as an environmental student, not having read it is a bit like a biological sciences student not having read The Origin of Species (*gulp* I've read most of it, I promise...), or a Literature student never having read any Shakespeare. Needless to say, I hadn't read it; hence why I asked for it for Christmas. To appease the guilt. 

Owning it is, at least, a step in the right direction, right?

Rachel Carson is my kind of writer - she writes about scientific things in a wonderfully descriptive way - waffly, almost - but poetic and emotive. In the first year of my undergrad degree, my college tutor told me that I was getting the right points into my essays, but the language was too poetic for scientific writing. I know that that was true for those essays, but it's nice to see that other writers write Biology poetically and from the heart too. Thankfully, in a more recent assignment for my masters, that was self-reflective and about our personal conservation philosophy, this waffly tone found its place!

As I read the book (I have started - but I'm only a short way into it!), I stumble upon quotes that I love on almost every page. My favourite so far is thus:

"Have we fallen into a mesmerized state that makes us accept as inevitable that which is inferior or detrimental, as though having lost the will or the vision to demand that which is good?"

She is speaking here of people's acceptance of the deterioration of the environment due to overexploitation and excessive pesticide use, as if it were a matter of course: as if it were the only way, just because that is how it is. Which, of course, it is not -  we are beginning to see that now, some fifty years on from the writing of this book. 
Beautiful British Countryside :)

That quote inspires me, as someone who's hoping to make a career in this sector; but also for life, in general. [What a broad statement.] Does it you? 

Are we in a state that accepts that which is inferior, having lost the will or vision to demand that which is good? It makes me sad to think of how many of us live like this, and how often I do too. We so easily accept what is in the world, the circumstances around us, regardless of what they are. 

Perhaps it's because we don't think we can do anything about them.
Perhaps we are apathetic.
Perhaps we don't think we deserve any better.
Or perhaps it's easier to accept circumstances without thought, than face up to their reality.

Recently I've been thinking about fear and anxiety. Without going into too much of a sad diary entry, I struggled with anxiety and fear in my late teens, which was triggered by one reasonably trivial incident, but exacerbated by doing too much, not having time to process life, putting too much pressure on myself, and being bathed in the anxiety of several friends who had real depressive and axious tendencies. Fear and anxiety are the kind of things that creep into life without you noticing. 'Through the back door", a wise friend of mine described it as. And before you know it, you are coping with living through anxiety. 

But life in that state is both inferior and detrimental. 

And somehow, among all that, I lost the vision to demand that which is good. Anxiety was what I saw around me in others, it was what that portion of my life looked like, I just accepted it as normal. A bugger, but normal.

Jesus had so much to say on this issue. He said that he came to give us life, and life to the fullest (John 10:10);  that we shouldn't worry because God provides for us (Matthew 6:25-34); and that when we ask from God he will give us good things (Matthew 7:9-11). 

Life, and life to the fullest.

I guess it feels to me like it's time for some people to demand life to the fullest, instead of the fear and anxiety that they live in. And time for us, like Rachel Carson, to see the world around us and realise that it is in an inferior and detrimental state. To demand better. To intercede for people and situations that fall below what they deserve. To understand that God loves us, and wants good things for us, deems us deserving of it. Because it is 'for freedom that Christ set us free'.

One person who certainly embraces life to the fullest is the current joy of my life: Miranda. Last week's episode was all about her not conforming to what other people think she should be doing, but chosing to embrace joy. Here's a trailer for next week's. I love her. 

Enjoy :)


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