June-July Quotes—Celebrating Deborah Bird Rose

LORRAINE SHANNON:

From: Deborah Bird Rose, Wild Dog Dreaming: Love and Extinction. University of Virginia Press, 2011.

It seems pertinent at the moment, following Deborah Bird Rose’s death in December 2018 to focus on some of her writings that examine both the positive and negative effects of human existence and actions on planet earth.

In the first chapter of Wild Dog Dreaming, “Where shall wisdom be found?” she wrote:

“The question, of course, is: if we humans are the cause, can we change ourselves enough to change our impacts? This question is brought vividly to our attention by the anthropologist Kay Milton. She notes the need for urgent action, and she notes that many calls to action have fear as an underlying motivating force. Milton draws on research that shows clearly that fear is often an extremely unsatisfactory driver, eliciting denial as much as action. In this work I take up an alternative driving emotion. ‘People save what they love,’ says Michael Soule, the great conservation biologist. He expresses an almost despairing concern over the current biodiversity extinction crisis, and asks one of the most important questions of our time: Are humans capable of loving, and therefore of caring for, the animals and plants that are currently losing their lives in a growing cascade of extinctions? The power of love is awesome, as everyone who has loved will know. But, equally, love is complex and full of problems as well as possibilities. William Stegner said it best in relation to place, and his words are applicable across all other ecological domains of our lives: ‘I really only want to say that we can love a place and still be dangerous to it.”