All posts tagged: Ethics

Content dealing with ethics of how we treat ourselves, others, and the planet.

Flight of the Hummingbird

Action, Responsibility, Empathy: Flight of the Hummingbird

I was introduced to Flight of the Hummingbird during the first residency of my Master’s program in Environmental Education and Communication. A parable inspired by the Quechan people of Ecuador, the thin tome serves as a powerful and moving call for environmental action. Illustrated with Michael Nicoll Yahngulanaas’ distinctive Haida manga artwork, Flight of the Hummingbird resonated with many of my fellow colleagues. By the end of the residency, our class had adopted the hummingbird as our unofficial mascot. The ideas found within Hummingbird have stayed with me ever since, continually shaping my thoughts on the nature and efficacy of environmental action. The story begins with the Great Forest catching on fire, and the animals within it fleeing for their lives. All save one. Dukdukdiya, the tiny hummingbird, would not abandon the forest. She flies to the stream, picks up a single drop of water, and drops it on the raging fire. Again and again she continues her efforts against the inferno at great personal risk. The other animals watch on the outskirts, warning Dukdukdiya …

Earthrise from the Moon

Here, Home, Us: Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot

As someone fascinated by worlds real or fictional, I was ecstatic to hear about the landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars. News of the successful touchdown represents a great triumph for the downsized agency and helped to rekindle my own interest in looking to the heavens. I sometimes have trouble communicating my passion of the cosmos to others. People occasionally ask: Why is space exploration important? As an environmentalist, shouldn’t you deal with all the problems we have here on Earth before worrying about the stars? What good is it all? Fortunately, there are other much more capable and articulate communicators out there to address these legitimate questions – People like Carl Sagan. One of the world’s most well-known astronomer, astrophysicist, and science popularizer, Sagan’s ability to captivate millions with his Pulitzer-winning Cosmos and the subsequent TV series of the same name is no small feat. It takes an extraordinary storyteller to distill esoteric knowledge down to digestible form and transform it into meaningful and inspiring messages for people of different ages and backgrounds. …

The Man Who Planted Trees

L’homme qui plantait des arbres: The Man Who Planted Trees

The Man Who Planted Trees is one of my wife’s favourite stories. I was fortunate enough to see the Oscar-winning animated short film with her last year at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival; I was immediately swept away by the beauty of both movie and message. Although it is a work of fiction, The Man Who Planted Trees is a testament to one man’s ability to bring about hope and happiness for himself and to the world around him.

Children and Environmental Tragedies

My last entry touched briefly on the appropriateness of exposing children to environmental tragedies and injustices. Today, I came across a gem of a passage in an essay by Ursula K. Le Guin. Titled The Child and the Shadow, it explored the importance of myths, fairy-tales, and coming of age stories in confronting the shadow in all of us, represented by the other side of the psyche and is the dark brother of the conscious mind. The particular passage that caught my eye came as Le Guin ruminates on ways to effectively convey difficult and mature subjects to children. She focuses on the notion of evil, which she describes as “all the pain and suffering and waste and loss and injustice we will meet all our lives long, and must face and cope with over and over and over, and admit, and live with, in order to live human lives at all.” The following are her thoughts; I bolded the parts I found most interesting: “But what, then, is the naturalistic writer for children to …

Michael Pollan Second Nature: A Gardener's Education Word Cloud 2

Pollan’s Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, Part 2

Welcome to part two of the analysis on Michael Pollan’s Second Nature: a Gardener’s Education. In this entry, I’ll focus on my two favourite chapters of the book: Planting a Tree and The Idea of a Garden. The Meaning of a Tree In Planting a Tree, Pollan explores the fascinating and ever-changing cultural significance of a tree. Once again, his reflections come out of his horticultural adventures; the chapter chronicles his thoughts as he decides on the right tree for his yard. The act of tree planting prompts Pollan to delve deep into American history to explore the meanings people have come to attach to the tree: The Divine Tree: Native Americans saw and treated trees as divine spirits, only to be cut down in need. The Tree of Evil: Puritans despised them as symbols for pantheism, danger, and darkness. The Tree as a Weed: New England subsistence farmers regarded them as obstacles to settlement. To them, the clear-cut landscape was viewed as a sign of progress and civilization. The Tree as a Commodity: The …

Ged and Lebannen

Mindful Action: Le Guin’s The Farthest Shore, Part 1

The Farthest Shore is my favourite story of the Earthsea series. It is also one of my favourite novels of all time. While I loved Wizard more growing up, Shore is the book I come back to as an adult.  The prose is graceful and fluid, written by someone with mastery of the language. The exchanges between the characters are honest, heartfelt, and thought-provoking. It is a story that tackles the one theme we all must face: Death. I have taken both meaning and solace from its pages during times of loss and grief. The exploration of The Farthest Shore will be split into two parts; there’s simply too much material to cover in one entry. I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time with this book, so it’s no surprise that I have forged many connections with it. Let’s get started!

Know Thyself: A Wizard of Earthsea

“Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.” – The Creation of Ea, A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin, p. 1 The books that profoundly shape one’s thinking don’t come along very often. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon one at the age of ten. Randomly grabbed out of a crate of assorted novels for English reading class, A Wizard of Earthsea immediately drew me deep into its world of magic, adversity, and adventure. But unlike other young adult books that were read and subsequently forgotten, Wizard’s story stayed with me. The beautiful use of language and imagery, coupled with the mythic quality of the writing style, definitely didn’t hurt. But I think as a child of two cultures, I was most particularly attracted to the unique way in which Le Guin wove Eastern philosophy into her works of fantasy. Whatever its appeal was, I have reread Wizard of Earthsea and subsequent entries of the Earthsea series many …