Saturday, November 5, 2011


A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise.  
Aldo Leopold,  The Land Ethic, A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC

Whatever preserves and enhances this meadow in the natural cycles of its transformation is good; whatever opposes this meadow or negates it is not good.
Thomas Berry, The Meadow Across the Creek, THE GREAT WORK

Aldo Leopold included the quote above in one of the last chapters of his book THE SAND COUNTY ALMANAC.  The chapters preceding The Land Ethic highlight experiences that Leopold had with the natural world, with the ecosystems where he lived, worked, and played. Click here to read his essay "The Land Ethic".

The quote from Thomas Berry comes from his essay where he tells the story of how as a boy, he came across a meadow across a small creek near his new home that was filled with lilies rising above a thick grass. “It was not only the lilies.  It was the singing of the crickets and the woodlands in the distance and the clouds in the clear sky. “   Click here to listen to Berry tell about this experience.

It is our experiences with the natural world, with the ecosystem that sustains us, that shape our response, that craft our ethics.  When our experiences are distorted by our complicated human inventions - these ethics become driven by things like economics, politics, or religion.  When these experiences occur naturally - our ethics are guided by the simplicity of the ecosystem of which we are but a part.