You (Don’t) Need a Thneed

Or…The Lorax Continues to Blog for the Trees.

I (sort of) apologize for my blog mood-swings of late (as in the past five years.) It makes me feel better learning that I’m not the only one who has come to feel out of relationship with the medium and its former audience, and not certain how to go on.

Like me, others have said that as long as they are talking knitting or kitties, the readership stays on board. But as soon as they move to life-relevant, urgent, very personal, gut-level and more weighty matters–far more important than dropping a stitch or Fluffy battling shadows on the floor inside a grocery bag–the readers flee for the hills.

Don’t go off-brand, buckeroos (and buckerettes.) And yet, we have the capacity to amuse ourselves to death while the house is on fire. Do we want to sustain the medium if that is all it has become–a Facebook Annex?

I’m sitting here a couple of hours before first light, wondering if, and then what to post this morning. Fridays I generally don’t bother offering Friday posts as blogs drop off the radar after Thursdays around here.

But I am shaken by the visual weight of these two images in the same frame of thought this morning, and by what they represent–at least to my mind. And so I offer you visuals from two possible futures.

Please examine Exhibit A (image-left)–the incredible macro-movie from Wednesday. If you didn’t see it, at least copy the link for the weekend.  No. Watch it now. We’ll wait.

This video snippet is a remarkably-captured celebration of just a sampling of  the astounding realities of behavior, form, color, texture and beauty in the natural world. This world we did not make but can destroy exists just outside your window, we just don’t get to see it’s detail like this, but your nearby world is just as real, just as amazing as the one depicted in the video. If we only had eyes to see (or know without seeing) nature in this way. Takes a wacky biologist I suppose.

The 7 minute video lifts up the wonders of nature and life, and watching it elevates our spirits, gives us hope and joy. Included in similar exhibits for your imagination’s consideration, if you’ll hold your arms wide and squint just a little, would be videos of every human family gathering around the birth of their newest healthy grand child; videos of those children climbing and running and laughing in bright colors on playgrounds and in shady parks and meadows around the world, cavorting under the sun; videos of those same children growing up into young farmers happily harvesting food in rainforests, on rocky coasts and high plains across the planet; growing old together in place.

Exhibit A, we’ll say, represents all the forms that life on Earth has the potential to continue to generate from healthy soils, clean water and working ecologic webs of give and take. But the health of that future stands in terrible and (geologically speaking) immediate  jeopardy, and if you don’t believe this, you (like the young students I got to know recently) have not been paying attention.

Now Exhibit B (image right, and link HERE): just one of thousands of earthly crime scenes: the tar sands of Canada. All the Exhibit B’s (including but not limited to mountaintop removal, desertification, coral reef deaths, raped rain forests, massive fish kills and ocean dead zones, megadrought and melting permafrost) reveal the horror of the truth: that humankind is willing to give our proxy to the Once-lers of Mordor–to obliterate continents-worth of those forms of life we watched in Exhibit A.

They do so in our names–we, the Consumers–for the purpose of squeezing out of the ground one more million miles of jet travel,  one more million dollars of corporate profit. One million more Thneeds, the Lorax would say.

Mordor knows what it’s doing and gleefully pushes all the harder on the throttle. And you and I and those scurrying insects and hungry frog and all the Truffula trees close relatives are the victims.

I challenge you to survey the eternally-poisoned landscapes of the tar sands that would feed the Keystone pipeline. Make yourself look.

So again, I apologize, and I don’t. This is a blogger’s schizophrenic reality. We love to crochet. But we want to know our great-grandkids get the chance to do it. And we sort of have a hard time smelling the house on fire and blogging nothing but blue skies.

“What’s that thing you’ve made out of my Truffula Tree?”

â–¶ The Lorax (1972 original) – YouTube

Serving suggestion: since the kids spend most of their time plugged in, sit them in front of the original Lorax from 1972.  Might be worth your time as well, grown-up types.

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. “Like me, others have said that as long as they are talking knitting or kitties, the readership stays on board. But as soon as they move to life-relevant, urgent, very personal, gut-level and more weighty matters—far more important than dropping a stitch or Fluffy battling shadows on the floor inside a grocery bag—the readers flee for the hills.”

    Let’s just blame the readers. That always works.

    Really, Fred, I’ve been with you a very long time, since almost the vey beginning of your online identity. I usually read your posts through my RSS aggregator; that probably doesn’t show up very well in your site metrics. While I personally find life a bit more nuanced than the hyperbole your advocacy often leaves room for (but hey, it’s your blog), I still think you highlight much worth thinking about. From my point of view, your work as a blogger is much appreciated and certainly admired.

    You’re not chasing me away just yet.

  2. Con, what you don’t know is the MANY times I’ve been scolded or have “disappointed” a reader or group of readers when subject matter moved away from the kind of writing I like best (nature-relationships) to the kind of writing that seems most urgently needed. I appreciate your stickability.

    I’ve long since stopped catering to the fuzzy puppies champions, but enjoy the sadly rare time when I can allow myself to see the silver lining, when it is the black cloud that my grandchildren need to be prepared for.

  3. I’m certain John the Baptist, the camel fur clad and bug eating lonely guy crying in the wilderness, never knew his voice and name would be known throughout the ages without even a blog to articulate his mad rantings. You may never know the influence of your writings in your own lifetime. The problem with people is that they are people, and have a tendency to crucify the Jesuses, Lennons, MLKs, and behead the Johns. Such is life and death when trying to spread the word, or Word.

  4. I looked at both links you provided with equal amazement. I am amazed that the photos of tar sands mining have not been seen by me previously, as I read at least six environmental periodicals. These certainly warrant widespread distribution, and thanks for doing what you can.