A Silent Spring for the new century? Gary Lindorff's new book, New Wasichu, Crossing: Our Story is Just Beginning is, on one level, a bold disturbance of the silence of denial that has muted our ability to reverse Schweitzer's curse, quoted by Rachel Carson right at the threshold of her prophetic classic: "Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth." Perhaps if we had heeded Rachel Carson's shot over bow of Western post-industrial "progress" we would not be where we are now. But here we are, and the silence is still deafening. Silent Spring is one of those books that you don't necessarily have to read anymore because it is in our bones, just like the strontium 90 that was falling with the rain back when Carson was writing. Here is another book for our bones.
This book is addressed to those who have fallen in love with the planet.
Lindorff isn't trying to sell the loveableness of the planet to anyone. New Wasichu, Crossing is for those who already know (in their bones) that Gaia is alive and they already love her. The first sentence (chapter 1) cuts to the chase: "I begin this writing out of a sense of urgency to speak some truth to my tribe, the Wasichu. The earth, our mother, requires something of us now, something that we haven't been able to provide until now: protection." The point is, if we truly love the earth we will defend her from those who are destroying her.
Defend Mother Earth? That sounds risky. What would that look like? How would that feel?
When Lindorff was filing for his conscientious objector deferment from Vietnam (back in 1970) he was told that, at his hearing before the Draft Board he, a self-proclaimed pacifist, would very likely be asked: What would you do if someone broke in and tried to rape your mother? He admits, the question got him thinking. And it is a question that has never gone away, for clearly Earth is being raped.
But there are other metaphors that are equally provoking.
Lindorff claims that once we make the shift to partner with nature, everything will take care of itself. But in order to fall in love with the planet we have to fall out of love with the middle world which Lindorff refers to as a "womb of our own making in which we have set up shop. . .Often it seems like everything is testing us, and life is nothing but a series of trials, but that is the Mother just trying to get us out of her belly, and if we fight too long, we will lose."