“I think we who work for justice and come face to face regularly with its negation are at risk of losing that which animates all healthy beings: the capacity to respond to the graciousness draping the world in colors vivid and electric, the warmth of the sun, a lover’s touch. If we neglect to notice these, why attend to anything else? E.B. White said, ‘Every morning I awake torn between a desire to save the world and an inclination to savor it. This makes it hard to plan the day.’ But if we forget to savor the world, what possible reason do we have for saving it? In a way, the savoring must come first.”
How often have I felt this very same conflict? I awake on a sunny summer day in Maine (down the road from where E.B. White once lived and wrote), yearning to be outside observing, experiencing, and connecting with this extraordinarily beautiful planet upon which I’ve been graced to be born; to feel the wonder and joy that envelops me when I see a seal basking on the rocks at the shore near our Institute for Humane Education campus or hear a loon’s eerie cry (not on the soundtrack to every movie with a scene at a pond or lake but in real life); to watch a yellow spider on a blood red flower; to listen to the popping of the lupine seedpods in a meadow (who knew that flowers could make so much noise!). I also awake with the knowledge that there is so much work to do to save all this and more, and that while I desire to experience the joy of connection to the natural world, my time is precious. There is much to be done.
But I agree with William Schulz. If we don’t take the time to savor the world, we are unlikely to have the motivation to save it. Which is why as a humane educator, someone dedicated to providing people with the knowledge, tools, and motivation to be conscientious choicemakers and engaged changemakers for a peaceful, just, and healthy world, bringing reverence-building and wonder-inducing activities to people — especially children who are growing up in a mediated, screen-based world — is essential.