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Holding A Smaller Seat

By Jim Drescher

The Great Eastern Forest is gone.
Chopped down,
chopped up,
ground to a pulp
so we can read about the global economy while
we wipe our asses on the Great Eastern Forest.
Flushing it down the toilet bowl watersheds of our setting sun civilization,
we barely give a shit;
just call for more from the exhausted forest.

Damn the obstructionist environmentalists.
Damn the smaller-footprint freaks.
Damn the social justice junkies.
I need a new car
and a bigger house
and cheap convenient shopping at Superstore and Walmart.
I want my share.
I deserve it.
I work for it.
It isn’t my fault if I exacerbate a few problems in the forest.
It’s the government’s business
to control those nasty forestry companies…
but I need their products and
the job that spins off from what they do.
They are contributing to the economy.

I’m caught.
Too bad if it’s all going,
but what can I do about it?
I have to have what I have to have.
I have a family to feed,
kids to take to hockey practice,
shopping to do at the mall.
I’m working my heart out.
Weekends are the only time I have for golf…
maybe one ski trip at Christmas.
Don’t talk to me about disappearing forests.
Besides, they’re into sustainable forestry these days;
they’re doing lots of replanting;
the trees will grow back;
it’s a renewable resource, you know.

What do you want me to wipe my ass on, comfrey leaves?
And what do bananas have to do with the Great Eastern Forest?
You try to make everything connect.
Don’t you think that’s a bit extreme?

Next time you’re up in an airplane,
on one of those necessary business trips,
take a window seat,
hold your head against the window plastic,
peer down over the beauty strip
into the devastation that was the Great Eastern Forest.
Tilt your head;
take a broad and long view.
Imagine the forest that covered this land only a short time ago.

Next time you find your feet on the earth,
walk into one of those clearcuts,
taste the intimacy of destruction.
Now remember the vast landscape you witnessed from the air.

Make the connections.
Don’t die in denial.
Wake Up!
It may be possible to restore the Great Eastern Forest.
It will take all our gentle effort.
No more weekends of golf,
no more consumption sprees,
no more ski holidays,
only genuine and effective caring for other beings.
Is the Great Eastern Forest worth the cost of our personal comfort,
and that of our family and friends?

Waking up is not pleasurable.
Encouraging others to wake up is not always well received.
On the other hand,
Committing our lives to avoiding controversy,
to warding off death,
is futile.

Forest restoration is opening the heart,
honing one’s discriminating awareness, and
moving into a smaller seat.
The earth’s touch is painless only to the insensitive.

Flying Northwest Air
over the Great Eastern Forest
5 May 1997

Jim Drescher is a forester and a Buddhist. His is a major voice in opposing industrial forestry in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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