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Environmental Action and the Culture of Despair

Submitted by Bee on Fri, 2007-10-05 11:28

What social workers--and we must count environmentalists among such--find difficult to understand is that the trashing of the land is always preceded by a trashing of the soul. Pollution and despoilation are always political, ethical, before they ever become environmental. No one trashes, willfully wastes, or purposively neglects to clean up the immediate world of house and yard and field--no one accepts with dread fatality the present disorder--unless there has already been a prior disordering of the spirit.

--from "On Not Cleaning Up Battle Creek: Environmental Action and the Culture of Despair" by Gerald L. Smith


I found this article several years ago and just re-read it, and I think it's even more important and timely now than it was when it was written. The author uses the case of a polluted creek in Tennessee to explore the phenomenon of institutionalized despair and its implications for environmental protection and repair. While Texans won't necessarily identify with the unique Appalachian regional issues the article identifies, the more general questions of despair, the role of religion as a supplier of hope (or not), and the nature of pollution are just as live and important in Texas as in any other state.


Find the article here