Mankind’s Legacy

Chopped down trees, man's legacy begun.

“Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.” ~ Henry David Thoreau.

There are two things I notice immediately about my title.  One is that it isn’t politically correct.  Oh well.  The second is that today is Memorial Day, and hey, shouldn’t I be talking about wars or veterans in my family?  I suppose to be following procedure, I should be.  But I’m not from a military family.  In fact, I don’t think anyone in my family has been in the military since, I dunno, the Civil War or something.  I guess technically that’s not true.  My aunt Maureen was an army nurse, but naturally, it’s not the same thing as being a soldier.  So given my lack of ties to the military, I’m going to write about rape instead.

No.  Not sexual rape.  Land-rape.

I was out taking a walk this morning, which I never do.  I’m a lazy bum and I like to sit in front of my computer and be useless.  So the last time I Birch tree amidst destruction.took a walk around my neighborhood was probably one of those uncannily warm days in March.  Today, I was walking around looking for something interesting and new-ish to take a picture of for my Photo of the Day.  I took a route I don’t generally take and WHOMP!  I found the image to the left here.  A beautiful old birch tree (N’Amshir state tree, don’tchaknow?) absolutely surrounded by piles of dirt.  Not like… Oh look, a pile of dirt magically appeared due to flooding and erosion!  Like, “Me big landowner, om nom ground.”  It made me incredibly… disappointed, I guess I would say, for a couple of reasons.  One, I love birch trees, but you know, that one’s gonna go, too.  As I was technically trespassing, I didn’t get close enough to see if it’s marked, but chances are, it is.  And the second reason of course is that do we really need more houses and things?

Where I used to live, we were practically in a hole in the woods.  Since we didn’t have a mailbox, almost everyone missed the driveway.  It was like we were invisible.  I loved it.  Even people dropped me off at eleven at night and I had to walk the eighth of a mile or whatever it was down the pitch-black driveway, I loved it.  On the far side of the driveway, there was this great big overgrown field.  Since we were just renting, we never really bothered with it.  But my brother and I used to wander around in there when we were kids, because lets face it- to children, all the world’s a stage.  There were a couple of saplings in there, and wild rose bushes.  Things like that.  the other side of the driveway was the same, but separated  from us with a line of trees, since it wasn’t our property.  Since we moved, both those fields have been torn apart to look like the typical American clean-cut front lawn.  Nothing special, nothing pretty, but the grass is all 1 3/4 inches tall.  On the land that wasn’t ours, a house was erected.  Well.  Isn’t that just divine?  A house in the front yard.  I preferred the fields, but maybe I’m just old fashioned.Tractor marks.

People from the city will never understand the beauty of the land out here.  A lot of people leave New Hampshire because it’s boring and there’s nothing here but trees.  These people want the busy ways of the city, the running and rambling streams of businessmen instead of the cool, sweet water streams.  People who have been born and raised in the city see beauty in the steel-lining of skyscrapers, appreciate artistic landscaping, but not the land.  I am a child of the country.  When I was a kid, I didn’t want to admit that, because quite frankly, everyone wanted to be somewhere else, so I did too!  But now I’m older, I don’t give a darn about my peers, and I have no desire to leave the northeast.  For me, the magic is in the mountains and the trees.  Seeing them plowed through like play-dough makes me sad.  Like a part of my childhood is being murdered.

There are three movies that I can think of that warn people, in one way or another, that we should take what we need from the world, but no more and we should be grateful for it.  Two of these, ironically, are Disney movies.  The first is Pocahontas.  Yes.  I know it’s not historically correct (I’m a history major- I’ve been over the story of Jamestown a couple times, thanks).  But there’s one song in the middle called “Colors of the Wind“.  Most people know it.  With lyrics like “You think you own whatever land you land on/the Earth is just a dead thing you can claimOm nom, land.” and “How high will the sycamore grow?/If you cut it down, then you’ll never know” it’s difficult to ignore the facts- human beings are slowly destroying the Earth.  We don’t have to be.  But everything needs to be bigger, taller, shiner, stronger, until there’s no more space.  We are obsessed with the idea of ownership, and isn’t land with a house on it more valuable than just land?

That kind of leads into the second movie, also Disney, the movie Wall-E.  Even in the theatrical trailer, you get a glimpse of what the world has become in this image of the future.  As the movie continues off the now uninhabitable (because lets face it- trees and other plants create oxygen, which is essential to our breathing) planet earth, you see what has become of the human race- fat and lazy.  The first time you see humans in Wall-E, you see two riding side by side in these huge chairs, talking to each other on a view-screen because they’re too lazy to turn their heads and talk to one another.  Really.  Why should they have to do anything, though?  They’ve built a world that allows them to be lazy.  Can’t help but to wonder, is that what we’re moving toward?

The third movie is, of course, Avatar.  I tried to find clips of the damage that the humans did to Pandora on YouTube, but because the moDirt-filled deer field.vie is so new and highly protected, I couldn’t find anything useful.  However, when I searched “Avatar mining” I found a true story similar to that of Pandora.  And in the thinking of Avatar, I remember Fern Gully, which is a direct relation to destruction of the rainforest.

My point, ladies and gentlemen, is that we’re too obsessed with the creation and acquisition of things, and in the meanwhile, we are, to quote a sentiment in the movie avatar “destroying our mother”.  Is it really worth it?  I walked past a field earlier today filled with piles of dirt (clearly preparing for some sort of construction) that was once a place where deer grazed (seriously.  I’ve seen them).  I’ve been woken up every morning for the last few weeks promptly at 7:30am by the sound of drills and hammering and power saws from next door.  I’m pretty sure they’re putting an addition on their house (but I can’t be sure, this is one of those neighbors that lives in a hole-in-the-forest and has angry dogs and tall gates, way in.  And he’d probably shoot me if I trespassed.  Even though his kids trespass over here all the time and leave toys and sleds and junk in the woods to rot).

Is this ever going to stop?  Um.  The Earth-raping, I mean.  Although the obnoxious neighbor is okay to stop, too.

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2 Responses to “Mankind’s Legacy”


  1. 1 tobeme June 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Excellent post. We can only curtail/stop the rape of Mother Earth by reducing our personal need on resources. The change starts with each of us. When the need diminishes so will the damage.


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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

competing for the house cup

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