Ethics and the Environment 8 (2):71-79 (2003)
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In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Ethics & the Environment 8.2 (2003) 71-79 [Access article in PDF] "Explosion" Greta Gaard I. In the beginning there was only water, and you were a part of it. Never mind what else you have heard. This was your first relationship, your connection to water. And the quality of this relationship, the character of your beliefs about water, shapes all relationships in your life. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. You cannot separate one relationship from another, treat this water with reverence, this water with waste. Because water returns. Water knows there are no separations. You too should know this, for water has been teaching you, from the beginning.Imagine a creek flowing through the length of your life, from your birth to your death. Yes, your death. Water precedes you, water survives you. Consider the silence of blue-ice glaciers, ancient in their solitude, melting. Each winter the snowfall thick and wet, fluffy, or crisp and dry. Each spring the snows melting, glaciers growing and melting. Water flows down pine needles and cedar bark, flows down rocks and fallen logs, flows through moss and soil and sand.The lake gathers rainfall, gathers snowmelt and the plenitude of creeks. The lake overflows, spills, falls, exuberance of fullness, joy in motion, streaming downhill now, swelling the creek bed where it has made this journey so many times before.You have never seen this creek, the hidden water that flows through your days and nights, from one season to the next. Without it you would not live. You rely on this unseen water to flow forever. It has flowed here [End Page 71] before you were born, before you stepped into its flow, and you imagine it will outlast you, outlast whatever you might do to this water. You believe it is limitless, unending. You know its persistent force has carved rocks because you can see them, see the way water flows through stone, leaving its imprint in kettles, in the basins of water where rocks circulate, in the interlaced fingers of water and stone embracing at the falls.Water becomes you. But Narcissus-like, you look at water and see only your self. You believe you are alone. You are afraid. You need to con-trol this fear, this aloneness, this terrifying separation. You see the power of water and you want power. Power will give you control. You build dams and concrete channels and ditches, believing that by doing this you will control the power of water, the fertility of water, the fear of your separation. But water is patient. There are laws that govern the way of water, the ways of energy and power, the ways of land. There are consequences. Water bears no grudge, extracts no retribution. Your own actions, skillful or unskillful, determine the outcome. Your own relationship to water will poison you or save you. You decide.You believe blocking the flow of water gives you power.You believe blocking the flow of feeling gives you power.You believe harnessing the animals, fencing off the land gives you power. And for awhile, these strategies work.But there are consequences. That which is diverted, divided, suppressed, always returns with greater force, and when it returns, no one can control it. No one. II. Imagine a family. Picture the elders first. How many do you see? Where are the children? The sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins and nephews and grandchildren? How many people are needed to form a family? Can you be a family of one?Look at it another way: is there a limit to the relations of family? Is there a certain number of people allowed in a family until a limit is reached? Do you say, "Families may only have ten people"? "The eleventh person will not be included." Or do you point to the basis of inclusion, the things that bind you, one to another, and say, "Yes, this person too"?How do you recognize a family?Do family members have to pulse with the same blood, or will love create a family where the blood...



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