"These are the times that try men's souls..."
- Thomas Paine
Our country has always faced issues of ethical and moral importance. Perhaps the hows and the whys of each era give hope for the next generation, but recent global, national and local issues again have us questioning what is right.
What kind of people are we? Still children thoughtlessly reaping the benefits of an increasingly depleted Earth or educated and responsible and involved stewards of the planet? Two recent books give individual accounts of experiences, reports and suggestions and one new anthology combines the appeal of moral duty.
FINDERS KEEPERS: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession by Craig Childs.
Published by Little Brown and Company.
To whom does the past belong? Craig Childs gives an account of the complicated world of archaeology as he intermingles personal experiences as a desert ecologist and adventurer with a journalistic look at scientists, collectors, museum officials, and pot hunters to explore what should happen to ancient artifacts.
Beyond what most people think about archaeology lies a vibrant and controversial realm of scientists, thieves, and contested land claims.
What Childs does brilliantly throughout is to keep asking the reader who is right and who is wrong.
Are the archaeologist, museum curators, and scholars the good guys? Are the looters, private collectors, and ordinary people digging up artifacts the bad guys? Or is it the opposite?
Childs is critical of museum facilities inadequate to protect items that archeologists removed from their sites precisely to preserve them from destruction.
FOUR FISH: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg. Published by The Penguin Press.
What appears on our national and global dinner plates has come under intense scrutiny in the last decade, as many of the world’s food production practices are devastating the natural abundance and health of planet Earth.
Michael Pollan, Mark Kurlansky and Jonathan Safran Foer have alerted us to the hidden hazards of what we eat.
Eric Schlosser called out the fast food industry and gave rise to a war on obesity and an obsession with fitness.
Now Paul Greenberg takes us on culinary journey, exploring the history of the fish that dominate our menus---salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna---and investigating where each stands at this critical moment in time.
The book is grounded in common sense and on-scene reporting from the Yukon and Mekong Rivers, Lake Bardawil in the Sinai Peninsula and the waters off the coasts of Long Island, Greece, Hawaii and the Shetland Islands.
MORAL GROUND: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril, edited by Kathleen Dean Moore and Michael P. Nelson. Published by Trinity University Press.
MORAL GROUND gathers testimony from 80 global moral leaders--theologians and religious leaders, scientists, elected officials, business leaders, naturists, activists, and writers--all calling us to honor our obligations to leave to the future a world as rich in possibility as the world we inherited.
There have been books about environmental crises and about our moral obligations. This is one of the first anthologies to fill the need for ethical values, moral guidance and principled reasons for doing the right thing for our planet, its animals, its plants and its people.
This book encourages a newly discovered, or rediscovered, commitment to consensus about our ethical obligation to the future and why it’s wrong to wreck the world.
The question is asked: “Do we have a moral obligation to take action to protect the future of a planet in peril?” The fourteen chapter headings say, Yes...
- Yes, for the survival of humankind
- Yes, for the sake of the children
- Yes, for the sake of the Earth itself
- Yes, for the sake of all forms of life on the planet
- Yes, to honor our duties of gratitude and reciprocity
- Yes, for the full expression of human virtue
- Yes, because all flourishing is mutual
- Yes, for the stewardship of God's creation
- Yes, because compassion requires it
- Yes, because justice demands it
- Yes, because the world is beautiful
- Yes, because we love the world
- Yes, to honor and celebrate the Earth and Earth systems
- Yes, because our moral integrity requires us to do what is right.
Each of the sections answers the argument by personal narrative, scientific essay; by author, poet, environmental activist; by professor, religious leader, scientist, artist or writer.
At the end of every chapter, the editors make suggestions for Ethical Action.
Every contributor is active in the effort to preserve the Earth. Every contributor has come to terms with what this means and how it will be done on a personal level. Every experience shared with the reader offers argument, and hope.
The table of contents include--Desmond Tutu, The Dali Lama, E. O. Wilson, Gary Snyder,Thich Nhat Hanh, David Quammen, Robert Michael Pyle, Bill McKibbin, Marcus J. Borg, Wangari Maathai, Wendell Berry, Terry Tempest Williams, David James Duncan, Barbara Kingsolver, and Paul Hawken.
Whether they’d do it for the kids, for the animals, to please God or simply because it’s the right thing, they display an amazing range of personal motivations and persuasive strategies.
So many voices, so much fine reading which will give one cause to think and reflect on their own life and response to the Earth.
One reviewer said, "The sorry truth is that the people who most need to hear this book’s message won’t go anywhere near it."
I say this is the perfect book to give to those who need the message. Use the book as a call to action and see that the message spreads.
Barbara Theroux is the manager of Fact & Fiction, now part of the Bookstore at the University of Montana.