Monday, November 26, 2007

The Legacy of R. Carson

First of all, this post is primarily in response to an article in Washington Monthly which was brought to my attention by my professor in Environmental Sociology class (to read the article click on the title of this post; tell me in your comment if this does not work and I will put up a comment with the link included). Generally, this article tells about how attempts to recognize the life and accomplishments of Rachel Carson were met with attacks from both media and the government. I have read the article for the second time today and, again, sit stunned at the reaction of what the article calls the "detractors."

I simply cannot fathom how someone could be so cruel toward a woman who was so nice. What I mean is that she comes across as a nice person, regardless of her professional life. The only solution that I have come to is that this situation must have something to do with money. It is hard for me to imagine that all these "detractors" have some personal grudge against Rachel. It seems more likely a preemptive strike made in response to a perceived threat against their sources of revenue. I cannot think of any other reason, although I wish I could because I hate to think that anyone would sink to such a level for the sake of money.

A concept that has been going around is that if we work to preserve nature we will lose revenue. Even if this concept held water, and reality does not support it, it is still a ridiculous reason for attacking Rachel Carson. Many feel that if Carson had not written her books then the American environmental movement would never have formed and we would not have to deal with all the regulations that have come about because of it. This is like saying that Jesus Christ is to blame for all the terrible things humanity has done in the name of Christianity, or maybe that Martin Luther King is responsible for all the inconvenience whites have had to put up with as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. We miss the point entirely when we do this, and no one's situations, neither the "detractors" or the supporters of Rachel Carson, can be improved in this way.

Rachel Carson had some great ideas, she wrote beautifully, and brought to the attention of millions the impact humans were having on the environment, but her time is past now. I think that both sides of this argument must move on if we are ever to find some answers and peace. I do not mean that we cannot show appreciation for Rachel Carson, I do that myself, but I do not think she should be raised above humanity as some sort of visionary or prophet. On the other hand, she most certainly did not have a malicious streak either; she did not sit at home just thinking up new ways and new lies she could tell to further wreak destruction against and inconvenience American businesses and lifestyles. Rachel Carson was simply a woman, a human like the rest of us. The only difference between her and us was that she, first, was concerned about the environment and, second, had the courage to talk about her ideas and feelings in a public setting.

As far as I can tell, the most she ever asked of us was that we might take a moment and think about how our lifestyles might be effecting the environment. If we can do this seriously and earnestly, and still feel no remorse for our actions, then Rachel would have had nothing further to say to us. After all, it is only because of the guilt we feel over our actions that Carson's ideas can have any impact on us. Ironically, it is those of us who feel the most guilt and responsibility for our actions that end up empathizing the most with Carson's words.

Unlike some countries, it is not a crime to think for yourself in the United States, and yet sometimes it seems like the people in this country perform this action the least out of all the people in the world. Some people in this nation are specifically paid to confuse the rest of the American public. It occurs to me that this may have been the actual purpose behind Carson's actions - to get the American public to start thinking. If the environment were destroyed, Rachel would have been sad, probably devastated, but I do not think she would have called it the end of the world. When people stop thinking, though, we lose our autonomy; I believe we would be losing the most important part of ourselves. So, sorry for the long post, but I guess my point is to tell you all to get out there and start thinking, for yourselves that is, and never stop questioning the truth of what you hear and see from media, from the people around you, and even from yourselves.

1 comment:

peanut said...
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