Friday, November 10, 2017

Why I wrote "When The Last Tree Dies."

      If you add up all the camping trips, all the hikes, all the walks short and long, I’ve spent most of my life outside. Nature was always the first place I went when the indoor world became too much. The solitude shaped me. Nature was and continues to be my teacher, my healer, my spiritual companion, and most of all, a part of me as vital as all the other parts.
That is why every wound to the planet is a wound to my own body. It is especially distressing when those wounds are caused by greed, by the insatiable need for power, by the futile pursuit of yet more material goods to fill the emptiness inside.
     I know the causes of that emptiness. Some are obvious, such as expecting a thing to replace a need. Others not so much, such as the “begging for prosperity” megachurch religions that teach their congregations how to beg god for material salvation. But the largest void is caused by the move away from nature as an integral part of self, and toward the one that sees it as a commodity, something to conquer, and worse, as an enemy that brings storms, and fires, and floods.
     In the same way that other cultures are demonized in order to exploit them for political and financial gain, so is nature. The media runs continual disaster narratives on a loop of fearmongering. But it never mentions the man-made causes of those disasters. It never mentions that greed is the root cause of most of them.
     The characters in my book suffered from the effects of corporate greed. Their world was already dying from abuse before Preacher Billy’s cult drove them to the mountains. The air was toxic, the water rationed, and the food artificial. Every fire, every storm, made them fear nature more. The more they feared, the farther apart they moved away from nature as a part of themselves.
     By sending them to the mountains, I gave them a chance to reconnect with nature, to fill the void left by those with nothing in their hearts but greed and a hunger for ever more power. I created communities that were vastly different from each other. I made them good and I made them evil.
     I didn’t make it pretty. I didn’t mute what corporate profit motives, religious mind control, and programmed fear does to a human being, because those kind of afflictions aren’t fiction. They are real. They are happening as a I type this.
     But I did make them human, because that means I still have faith in our ability to wake up as a planet. It means I know I’m not the only one who believes we must speak up, we must act, we must make ourselves heard, because if we don’t we, and the planet, are doomed.
     I wanted people to understand what makes people turn to charismatic preachers, politicians, and charlatans. I wanted people to understand what makes someone hate, what makes someone kill, what makes someone dehumanize others for their own gain. And I also wanted them to understand there’s a lot of power in love and we need to draw on it far more and on hate far less.
     If we understand these things, we understand each other. If we learn to fight for peace the same as we fight for war, maybe we will have less wars and more peace. If we start standing up for our planet the same way good people stand up for any abused human being, then maybe, just maybe, we can solve the problems together.
     My book is not a manual. It’s a warning with some suggestions. But more than anything it’s a love story for my relationship with nature. I grew up in a special time when the air was still clean, when I could drink from a river, when storms were natural instead of tragic. I want this world for the children of the future, but that means we have to fight for it now, because we really are running out of time.
                                        Buy "When The Last Tree Dies"


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