“We have lived our lives by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. We must change our lives so that it will be possible to live by the contrary assumption, that what is good for the world will be good for us. And that requires that we make the effort to know the world and learn what is good for it.” –Wendell Berry, The Long-Legged House
When beginning the process of writing these short essays I had only stepped but a toe into the giant ocean that is Environmentalism. Before beginning my foyer into Environmentalism my ideas on the subject were quite limited; they consisted mainly of the thought that Environmentalism was nothing more than recycling and reducing our carbon footprint, that living as an environmentalist was akin to living in a house built out of sustainable resources with solar panels on the roof and relying on rainwater as your source of water. But it was through this process that I learned that environmentalism is so much more than that, that environmentalism is like a large tree with many branches that twist and turn, some intersecting while others never meet. That to truly understand Environmentalism one must “Branch Out” and explore all the term has to offer. When one begins their journey into the world of Environmentalism they begin to learn a lot more about the world around them and also begin to see the world as being bigger than themselves. The biggest take away that I got from my own personal journey is seeing how selfish I truly am and how truly absorbed into the capitalist culture where we buy something and then throw it away a couple of years or even a month later. I often see my phones or other electronics as obsolete after they release a new model and think about how much I want to get the latest and greatest while I still have a perfectly fine working model in my hands. I often forget how dangerous a mindset like that can be and how I have all these perfectly good working machines tucked away in some desk drawer. I learned so much about myself through this journey and about the greater world around me and I hope to be able to continue the lessons I have learned and gain more insight moving forward. My learning journey is not yet done, nor will it ever be done there is still much for me to learn and I don’t know if I will ever know everything there is to learn before I die, but I look forward to my continuing journey and trying to learn as much as possible.
Before beginning my journey into writing these essays and reading these novels I did not think that I could include Environmentalism into my future career as an English Teacher, I thought that the subject was better saved for a science classroom or maybe even another subject entirely. Before this, I didn’t think it was my place to teach the subject, maybe talk about it briefly when reading Thoreau or Emerson. But as I began to read more, write more and discuss these novels in class more I began to understand that I could bring Environmentalism into my classroom and that I could help the cause by teaching the future generations through literature much like I myself learned in Mark Long’s class. I learned that there were so many more Environmental writers than just Emerson or Thoreau, that those two are just the tip of the iceberg. It was through this experience that I gained a new found respect and love of Environmentalism as well as an inspiration to take what I’ve learned and brought it into my own classroom to teach my future students.