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Don’t Be Hasty

Ever read The Two Towers? J. R. R. Tolkien is such a genius. He loved forests. And trees. And green things in general. He created an entire plot line in his wonderful trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, around the idea of sustainability. One character, Treebeard the Ent (erm…a giant, walking, talking tree), even herds and protects an ancient forest. He literally fights its assailants in order to defend it.

So let me ask you this: what if trees could physically fight their attacker?

Craziness would ensue.

Anyway, Treebeard insists upon patience. Don’t be hasty is this guys’ motto. It makes sense, too. Trees (in this reality ;)) don’t move around. They grow slowly. And they are felled without protest (of their own making).

Americans, however, have often been described as the opposite of Tolkien’s Treebeard. We are seen as hasty. And irresponsible. Have you ever seen Ken Burns’ documentary about national parks?

My nerd is really showing through in this post.

Anyway. It’s this quote (also used in Burns’ documentary) that’s inspired me today:

“Gentlemen, why in heaven’s name this haste? You have time enough. […] Ages and ages lie before you. Why sacrifice the present to the future, fancying that you will be happier when your fields teem with wealth and your cities with people? In Europe we have cities wealthier and more populous than yours, and we are not happy. You dream of your posterity; but your posterity will look back to yours as the golden age, and envy those who first burst into this silent, splendid nature, who first lifted up their axes upon these tall trees, and lined these waters with busy wharves. Why, then, seek to complete in a few decades what the other nations of the world took thousands of years over in the older continents? […] Why, in your hurry to subdue and utilize nature, squander her splendid gifts? […] Why hasten the advent of that threatening day when the vacant spaces of the continent shall all have been filled, and the poverty or discontent of the older States shall find no outlet? You have opportunities such as mankind has never had before, and may never have again. Your work is great and noble; it is done for a future longer and vaster than our conceptions can embrace. Why not make its outlines and beginnings worthy of these destinies, the thought of which gilds your hopes and elevates your purposes?”

Lord James Bryce


Man. I’ve been shamed.

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