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"the simple power that is just enough"

froggies315's picture

three things that prompted this post:

1. something that happened this summer:  After a three day paddle around a lake, a fourteen year-old shared a story about her adventure during Meeting.  She said that one morning she woke up with the sun and went to stand on a rock which overlooked the lake.  It was windy, and she spread her arms out like bird.  She said that she felt “so solid” and after lamenting about the problems of the world, she finished with: “I wish that more people could stand with me on that rock in the wind to feel the simple power that is just enough.”

2.the first half of the first sentence of our syllabus: “beginning with an assumption that the environmental crisis is a crisis of the imagination...”

3. my frustration with class discussion and our readings

In class we spend our time talking about how our words and our grammars and our genres have contributed to our current ecological crisis.  We want to figure out whether or not changing them up can get us out of our mess.  To help us, we’re reading stuff that is supposed to help us re-imagine the way we see the world.  For example, Le Guin argues that rather than being “killer stories” our narratives should “hold things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us.”  (p. 168 and 169)

Who can argue with this?  The Le Guins and Bohms and Goatlys of the world are right.  Our words shape our experiences in the world.  Stories, grammars, and words which elevate us above the rest of the world make us think and act in ways that are domineering and not in line with the lofty ideals of these beautiful liberal arts colleges we love so much.  

If all our readings are correct, then why am I so irritated by them?  I think it has to do with their unsaid assumptions.  Their underlying assumption is also the underlying assumption of this class: “that the environmental crisis is a crisis of imagination”

Is it?  The way I see it, emphatically, no.  The environmental crisis is a crisis of experience.  If every time I walk across the green some one follows behind me with grass seed, how will I ever learn that when I walk across the grass, I kill it?  If all my food comes wrapped in cellophane, how will I ever understand that once, it was alive?

The experiences where we get to feel/know ourselves and our impact in the world are the ones that teach us “the simple power that is just enough.”  Have we experienced this power?  Can we imagine this power if we haven’t experienced it?  How important is this power to solving problems of all kinds?  Do our readings expect us to know this power?  Do our discussions?  Right now, I’m struggling because I feel like we’re expected to know and imagine the nebulous term: “environmental crisis.”  I do not understand this.  I have not experienced it.