Alone in a World of Wounds

The more a person knows about the complexity and fragility and inter-dependent webs within the living world, the more outrage and sadness and sense of powerlessness they are likely to suffer. Aldo Leopold said it well:

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

That alone-ness once became so intolerable that I committed to sharing my concerns, to saying more and more about the wounds. Surely everyone must care! I had thought, with more voices, we could and would change our hurtful relationships with every part of the planet we have touched with our heavy hand.

But I am uncertain now that “the world” wants to know the truth of our predicament. And the Earth-aware–those ecologists and teachers and stewards who would make Earth’s wounds visible–are being silenced and marginalized and demonized and their voices muted from the highest office.

It is an uncomfortable and lonely place—here, damned if I do or don’t, seeing no good will come from the agonized scream of environmental outrage or the barely-audible whimper of mortally wounded helplessness.