But I never really could imagine that Jesus was going to come back to earth-I mean how would he do that? I caught part of a tv show recently, where this interviewer on the streets of New York City asked people if they believed in Jesus. If they said, "Yes," as most did, he asked, "How would you know if Jesus actually came back to earth?" No one had a clue. In the last interview, he asked, "What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night, and there was Jesus, standing at the foot of your bed?"
The eyes of this fellow grew wide, he thought for a second, then replied, "See a psychiatrist!" as he turned and walked away.
Yet we live in a supposedly Christian culture, where untold millions say they believe in the second coming of Jesus, and would gladly bang their bible over our heads to convince us. 2 Peter 3:3-4 "First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." Matthew 24:36 "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
And so on and on. Thus I've imagined that if Jesus did swing by again to save the world, the scoffers would say, "Where is this coming he promised?" Hardly noticed, I imagine that Jesus would do his best to point out that this planet is a sacred place, created by some vastly higher intelligence, and he would implore us to protect it. He might well suggest that whatever power led to our existence is a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed. I imagine he would lay out a practical method for us to continue to bring souls into the world, or in more current jargon, to continue our species for an indefinite period of time. I suspect he'd reiterate in some way that the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven are within us, perhaps pointing out that solutions are in our own hands. And I imagine he'd strongly encourage us to use the brains we were given at birth, and in so doing pass on the torch of reason. He might even propose, in a way even scientists could agree upon, that heaven is right in front of us, if we would but open our eyes.
Of course most people would not listen any more now than they did 2,000 years ago. Indeed, if he came in a humble form as before, this time, say, as a hitchhiker or an "illegal alien," we'd be more likely to lock him up than give him the time of day.
Thus when I look back through history and contemplate whether maybe there really was a person who spent his life trying to save the world, who believed this planet is sacred, who implored us to protect it, who held profound respect for the forces that put us here, but whose message fell on deaf ears, and who was even scoffed by many and ignored by most, one person actually comes to mind. I don't doubt that there are other candidates out there, and who am I to tell you or anyone else that this person was really the Jesus of the New Testament?
Still, this is the one person I'm aware of who best fits the bill, at least as I perceive it. And it's clear enough to me that if we heeded his advice, we most likely would save the world--and ourselves in bargain.
It was my extreme good fortune to have interviewed this person, for the 1978 August/ September issue of the now defunct Mariah Magazine. As I reread his words today, they have more relevance now than they did back then. The title of the article was, "Mariah Interviews David Brower, Best Friend of the Earth." I present that article herewith, as written 28 years ago. Dave died in the year 2000-the millennium to many-one of his sons has since passed away, he went on to found the Earth Island Institute, and many other particulars have obviously changed. But the essence of Dave's message lives on in his words. Those who have ears, let them hear...
David Brower's strong stand on conservation issues and his work in the environmental movement have won him many descriptions, as varied as the perception of their authors. Brower has been called a flaming firebrand, God-damned stubborn, the most effective person on the cutting edge of conservation in this country-a poet, a wild man, a genius.
For all the words, his active part in many conservation campaigns speaks louder. Brower has worked to establish Kings Canyon National Park, to save timberlands in Olympic National Park, to establish Redwood National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, and North Cascades National Park. Disgruntled Bureau of Reclamation officials blame him for preventing, single-handed, their dam plans for Dinosaur National Monument and the Grand Canyon. And Brower was a leading activist in establishing the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Now, at age 66 [again, this article is presented as written in 1978], David Brower is a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination is largely due to his latest and, as he believes, his most important work-the effort to halt the spread of nuclear technology. Spearheading a worldwide effort to terminate what Brower believes could well bring about the end of civilization, if not all of life on this planet, is the organization called Friends of the Earth, which Brower founded in 1969, and for which he has since acted as president. In this capacity, he labors to fulfill the desire New Yorker writer John McPhee attributed to him several years ago: he wants-literally-to save the world [in McPhee's book Encounters with the Archdruid].
David Ross Brower grew up in Berkeley Hills, California. With his mother, who lost her vision when he was eight, he went on long walks; his power of observation-he has the ability, it's said, to identify butterflies in flight-was developed largely by descriptions and explanations made to her.
Brower dropped out of the University of California at 19, and spent the next ten years working at various jobs and climbed in the Sierra Nevadas. He has climbed every peak in the Sierras higher than 14,000 feet, and received credit for 33 first ascents-small wonder, then that he calls these mountains his home away from home. He spent 11 years as editor for the University of California Press, with three years out for military service, during which he prepared manuals and led mountaineering classes in Colorado and West Virginia. He saw combat in Italy with the U.S. 10th Mountain Division, and was awarded the Combat Infantryman's Badge and the Bronze Star. Brower Married Ann Hus in 1943; they have four children.
Brower began his conservation career in 1933, as a volunteer in the Sierra Club. In 1952 he became the Sierra Club's first executive director, a position he held until 1969, when disagreements with influential members led to his resignation. There was concern about how international the scope of the organization should be, how deeply it should get involved in publishing; and Brower's spending habits hastened his departure. Without consulting board members, he had used Sierra Club funds to place ads in major newspapers, focusing public attention on Grand Canyon dam proposals-one headline read, Should we also flood the Sistine Chapel so tourists can get nearer the ceiling?
Under Brower's leadership, the Sierra Club grew from a membership of 7,000 to one of 77,000; its budget jumped from $75,000 to nearly $3 million. It has been estimated that in the first two or three years before Browers's departure, the Sierra Club blocked $7 billion worth of construction it judged environmentally destructive. In addition, the club's publishing program has rolled out 50 books, including a widely acclaimed exhibit-format series which grossed $3,850,000 and brought the conservation message to over 2000,000 people.