Writer/activist longs for environmental change

Above, author/activist, Terry Tempest Williams, giving her speech about preserving the environment from extreme economically driven environmental destruction.

“And that moment changed me at the Gulf Coast, University of Florida. It was hard, and I think in that moment I stopped using the word hope because I saw that it was so fully embodied by the students. I stopped using hope, and I changed it to faith because that’s who I have faith in,” author, conservationist and activist Terry Tempest Williams said at Lang Hall on April 20. Tempest Williams like many other activists and conservationists in this society believe the future lies in the millenial’s hands. Rightly so, as we will be the upcoming policy makers, voter majority, politicians, lawyers, etc. 

In her speech, Tempest Williams stressed on a point that currently many leaders are avoiding: the treatment of our earth. During their presidencies, it is a common trend for presidents to set aside land for national monuments For example, in 2016 Obama established the Bears Ears Monument in Utah. But tides have turned, and quickly. Just one year later President Trump gutted 85 percent of the Bear Ears monument. Obama did not just set aside Bears Ears as public land because presidents before him had acted similarly, he did it because he believed it was important. He believed that Americans have rights to these lands that had been theirs for centuries. But for some, the earth and it’s beauty does not play a more important role than turning land into mining sites for financial gain. This may be a win for President Trump now, but in the end, he will have lost. Tempest Williams quoted Aldo Leopold’s, a leading conservationist, scientist, ecologist and activist’s wise words about the environment in her speech:  “One of the penalties of environmental degradation is that one lives alone in a world of wounds.”  Happiness in life can not just be provided from money, but this is what will be forced to happen if beauty of natural heritage is transformed into fuel. We need to see happiness, we need to touch it, we need to feel love from it. This is what the earth’s beauty can do.

It is true, in this world no two people exist with the same exact beliefs. Different people believe different amounts of money should be allocated to protect the environment and cherish it, but why should money and one’s pride stand in the way of protecting and preserving American history? Tempest Williams argues that the choice to preserve public lands is not a distinction between Republican and Democrat but a test of decency. “It’s not about in my brain if all the kids are Democrats, but a sense of decency, a sense of truth telling and a sense of really standing our ground in the places we love when there is so much loss in our public lands,” she said. Instead of being progressive, America focuses too much on our differences. 

As Tempest Williams said, she feels because of this, the “Civil War never ended.” Instead we need to focus on what we have in common: we all share the same Earth, which we need to take care of and love.

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