James Pinsky: Let freedom grow

James Pinsky

The grills are cold. The fireworks are over, and most of us are back to work after doing our annual “Thanks For Freedom” celebration. It’s good to know patriotism is alive and well.

It’s a funny thing, freedom. The ability to make choices for ourselves and our loved ones as we see fit is an awesome responsibility. Most Americans certainly don’t take these choices for granted.

As a retired military veteran who has seen more than enough war, famine and heartache across the globe, I can tell you freedom does a lot more than help we humans. Freedom helps everything, fish, fur and fowl live a better, more fulfilling life.

Our Founding Fathers knew the value of our planet then. Its value was written by Thomas Jefferson, who, by the way, along with many other professions, could be classified as an “organic” farmer these days, into the Declaration of Independence.

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

Jefferson made sure to be specific in the crimes by the King of England of wrecking our natural resources as one of many causes for our revolt when he wrote into the Declaration of Independence, “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

Jefferson and his freedom-seeking brothers knew then that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just weren’t possible without a thriving, healthy and bountiful ground beneath their feet.

Today, conservation may seem mandatory to most of us. In fact, keeping our water clean, our forests green and our air pure seem like common sense to those of us blessed with freedom. But, for many who have no freedom, and even worse, live in fear of death simply for wishing for it, the fate of the natural resources around them may garner a thought but I assure you it passes quickly. No, if we are to focus on saving this planet, it will come from a posture that is formed by an attitude grown best in the soils of human freedom.

If you are a conservationist of our planet, then you are a patriot of freedom for all humankind. These terms, these duties are not mutually exclusive because saving a tree, feather, or fish draws from the same compassion it takes to save our fellow man.

Carl Safina may have said it best in his book, “The View From Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World”:

“Saving the world requires saving democracy. That requires well-informed citizens. Conservation, environment, poverty, community, education, family, health, economy- these combine to make one quest: liberty and justice for all. Whether one’s special emphasis is global warming or child welfare, the cause is the same cause. And justice comes from the same place being human comes from: compassion.”

Someday I hope we all fight as passionately for the future of our planet as courageously as we do for the future of our own lives. After all, one is not mutually exclusive to the other.

James Pinsky is the education and information coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.  Contact him at 540.465.2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org.