Without knowing what to expect when attending the Dave Foreman talk hosted by Fort Lewis College on April 5th, I would have to say I look at the state of the world from an entirely new perspective. Dave Foreman considers himself a conservationist and is co-founder of “Earth First!,” an environmental advocacy group based in the Southwest. Earth First! was established by Foreman, Mike Roselle and Howie Wolke in response to an increased awareness of corporate influence on many large environmental advocacy groups. On earthfirst.org, you can find a more complete outline of their movement’s overall goals and their continuing mission to make people aware of the challenges we face as beings on this earth.
For the most part, a lot of the knowledge Dave Foreman shared was nothing new to the audience such as, earth being in its sixth mass extinction, the extinction of passenger pigeons and the human overpopulation conflict. However, if there was one thing I took away from Foreman’s talk, it would have to be his emphasis on human being’s desire to control everything in the natural world. “We are all earthlings,” Foreman said. The best analogy he used was to “think of earth as a 550 page story.” Complex life has only been around for as long as 550 million years and if you put humans in this story of our earth’s history we would be the last sentence of the last page. Yet, within that last sentence we have caused change that should have taken at least a couple chapters. Through our desire to control the nature that we have feared for so long, we consequently have blinded ourselves from what the earth itself needs to survive.
In order for us to have a world in the future that is similar to the one we know at the moment, “we must all become part of the neighborhood,” Foreman said. The heart and soul of the conservation movement, Foreman believes, is “to treat your neighbor as you would want to be treated.” All earthlings are part of this world—our neighbors. It is time for us to treat other living things as such.
By Hunter Mallinger
Photo used by Fair Use.
The subject of taking an animal’s life can certainly stir a lot of emotion in people, especially some supporters of the present day environmental movement. Infringing upon an animal’s right to life goes against an ethic to leave nature as it is. So, it seems that in order to be a “good” conservationist, a human being must leave nature unscathed, right? Well I’m here to keep those emotions stirred, by saying that this idea is very much WRONG.
Now, by saying some supporters of the conservation movement frown upon hunting certainly does not mean this is the feeling for all. The focus here is more on animal rights activists and those with similar beliefs. The reasons for why animal rights activists have developed their opinions are understandable, mostly a result of extremely evident mistreatment of animals. However, the fact is that people have known for a long time that hunting is a vital relationship between man and nature. For example, having grown up in an area of the world where hunting meant whether or not food would be on the table during the winter months, I learned to respect what nature has provided. For thousands of years, our ancestors relied upon a diet derived from hunting and gathering and for the most part those ancestors understood the importance of our relationship with the wilderness. Utmost respect and homage was paid to the earth and the gifts it provided us with, even when the taking of an animal’s life was involved. Unfortunately, that ethic was largely lost during the shift from gathering our own food to being able to buy it from somebody else.
Nowadays, it is easy to simply drive down to City Market and buy a pound of beef for $3.75 so it is hard to believe there was once a time when humans actually had to work for their food. Being part of the local foods team at the Fort Lewis Environmental Center has given me the opportunity to pursue a goal to reverse human being’s thinking back to what it once was. Hunting as a sustainable practice may sound like an oxymoron to the uneducated mind but to those who understand the importance of having a full freezer, this claim could be attested. Think of the amount of resources conserved by taking one less pound of grass fed, water consuming, packaged and fossil fuel burning (as a result of shipment) beef off of the average U.S. family’s dinner table. Not only can the practice of sustainable hunting benefit the environment but also the wallets of U.S. families.
There are many arguments and variables opposing an opinion like mine, yet the fact still remains that hunting could eventually lead to a stronger local food system in communities all over the world. It is my goal to bring a better understanding of how hunting can be a means of having stable, sustainable and secure means of putting food on the table to the Durango community and similar communities. Is it possible to polarize the two clashing mindsets regarding the ethics of hunting? Like every other progressive idea, it will take time and energy to reach a consensus.
– Hunter Mallinger