Modern 'civilization' is a doomsday machine

  • Kieran Suckling in Oregon's Cummins Creek Wilderness

    Robin Silver photo
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Kieran Suckling: "Our critics talk about "consensus." But a consensus of who? When we had a timber injunction shutting down all logging in the Southwest, a poll by a professional polling company found that every sector of the public supported a complete ban on the logging of old trees. Old people. Young people. Republicans. Democrats. They all said no, we should not log any more big trees.

"When we got cattle off 15 allotments, every sector of the Arizona public - including rural people - favored reducing cattle to protect wildlife. There is already a consensus. It's the ranchers, and the loggers, and their supporters that won't accept the consensus.

"I'm struggling to get to the roots of the ailment of Western culture. That led me to become an environmental activist. I have come to believe that the roots are our historic and unique denial that humans need to communicate with nature and that our fundamental relationship to forests and fish and cactus is a communicative relationship. As I was studying the importance of communication, I realized that our partners in communication are going extinct, which means the possibility of communication is going extinct.

"It's like some of these villages in Nicaragua, where half of the village has been wiped out; after that, the village is completely dysfunctional. That's where we are today. Half of our culture - the forest, the birds, the trees - has been wiped out. Our culture, despite what all the New Age crazies think, will never heal itself by talking to itself. It will only recover by bringing these perspectives back, recovering to the point that they're integral parts of the community again.

"Look at kids - the first thing you do is buy them animal toys. They watch Sesame Street, where animals parade across the screen and talk to them. Even here in the heart of urban America, we recognized the importance of talking to animals. What's really bizarre is that while we realize the importance of that to children, later on we think that as adults we don't need that. We're oblivious to the psychic needs of adults.

"I am an avowed relativist. I deeply believe that "reality" is culturally created, but by a community of all species, not just humans. If all these species are creating reality, what happens when you start knocking them off, one by one?

"We're killing the architects of a building in the midst of building the building, so our building is not going to make any sense. It's not going to stand ... From an evolutionary perspective, the very ability of humans to think of a concept like truth is deeply embedded in an evolutionary history of being a forest creature, surrounded by other forest creatures. What we think of as human ideas, they're as much a product of evolution as our fingernails. Just as our fingernails are shaped by the fact that we need to pick seeds, so are our thoughts and ideas. Just look at language, and the use of metaphor. It is impossible for human beings to think without constantly expressing ourselves in terms of other beings. Look at how we express concepts of wildness through wolves.

"If wolves no longer exist, if you no longer can sit in your house and think there is a wolf out there somewhere, you start to lose that whole concept. I can imagine this crazy future where Phoenix is under a bubble and there are no more wolves, or bugs, or fish, and you've got humans entirely in relationship to themselves. We'll just kill each other. That's not a viable culture."

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • EVENTS AND ANNUAL FUND COORDINATOR
    The Events and Annual Fund Coordinator is responsible for managing and coordinating the Henry's Fork Foundation's fundraising events for growing the membership base, renewing and...
  • EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Position Description: The Education Director is the primary leader of Colorado Canyons Association's (CCA) education programs for students and adults on the land and rivers...
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...