There’s Something

May 22, 2013 § 7 Comments


Yesterday I had a long conversation with Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods. This was for a story I’m working on –  not the book, but another project relating to children and nature and education. It’s funny how this stuff tends to crop up for me.

Anyhow, my style of interviewing is pretty informal (goodness, imagine that!); I prefer to have conversations with the people I’m interviewing, rather than work from a script. The benefit, of course, is that you end up going places you might never have predicted. Such was the case with Richard, because pretty soon we weren’t talking about kids and education and nature. Pretty soon, we were talking about fear.

“You know, parents have such fear that their kids are going to be left behind in the economic race,” Richard said. “I never judge people for that fear, but we’re up against economic forces so strong, only a mass movement can stand up to it.”

He’s right, of course. Fear is an incredibly powerful motivator, whether it’s fear of death, poverty, social acceptance, or – perhaps even more affecting – our children’s death, poverty, and social acceptance. This is all entirely understandable, perhaps in part because these things really are worth fearing, but I suspect in some cases because we’ve been taught to fear them. We have been socialized to accept and even embrace these fears, and I think this is largely because these fears help fuel the economic race Richard speaks of and in doing so, generates profits for those at the head of that race.

Later in the conversation, we got off onto another tangent, about sensory perception. “You know,” said Richard, “it’s widely accepted in science that there are a lot more than five human senses.”

Oh yeah, I said, how many?

“Conservatively, 10. But maybe as many as 30. And the crazy thing is, a lot of these other senses are the ones we end up pushing away because we don’t give ourselves the freedom to experience them. We don’t give ourselves the ability to feel and to be fully alive.”

Later on, you know what I thought? Now, there’s something to be afraid of.

§ 7 Responses to There’s Something

  • I think Richard has put his finger on something so important. Fear drives so much in our world. Our instant worldwide communications and our ability to instantaneously stream events live (think: 9/11, the Marathon bombing, the Oklahoma tornado and so on,) adds to the charge. And then we legislate.

  • mindweapon says:

    As Obama said:

    “In today’s hyper-connected, hyper-competitive world, with millions of young people from China and India and Brazil, many of whom started with a whole lot less than all of you did, all of them entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned,”

    Economic competition with zillions of immigrants is the problem for Americans in the 21st century. I remember in the good old days when a high school graduate who didnt have a criminal record could get a decent job as a school janitor, a landscaper, at a mill, a factory, a farm. I’m only 43 and I saw those jobs get largely taken by immigrants.

    They have used immigration to turn life in the USA into the Leviathan, a war of all against all. The people who do the best are those who practice group economic nepotism, such as the Indian convenience store owners and Chinese restaurant owners.

  • Chris says:

    Watching a documentary called American Teacher the other night and they even had Matt Damon is talking about how America is this number ranked in it’s giant math competition with the international community. Now when you’ve even got good old Will Hunting feeding the fire then you’ve got a problem. God love him.

  • Ann says:

    I think Richard is right there is a lot of fear for our children. One of the big fears I see around me is parents do not let their children have experiences on there own. I used to ride my bike around town, go to the library and play in the woods on my own as young as seven. Most people would consider letting their children do the above as terribly reckless now. I feel deeply for the tragedies that do occur in this world, but I feel we are throwing the baby out with the bath water so to speak.

  • Kent says:

    Hi Ben – GREAT thoughts! I have thought for a long time that there are more than five senses, and am heartened to learn I’m not alone. Just think what might be the outcome of replacing the motivating factor of fear with the type of engagement, passion, and love for our natural world you superbly describe in your own life. The sky’s the limit! THANKS

  • Dawn says:

    This reminds me of Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf education, whose philosophy is one also embraced by many homeschoolers. He wrote of 12 senses that have very much to do with experiencing nature and being a fully-realized human being. If you haven’t read any of his work, I think you might be interested. Thanks again for another great post! You have single-handedly got me actually wanting to check my email every day – something I never used to do.

  • “I must not fear. Fear is the mind killer.”

    Fears are interesting. When my kids are romping through the pasture, I don’t worry about ticks, scratches, bicycle accidents or barbed wire. I worry about how my children interpret their experiences romping through the woods while I’m away at work. Nature’s book is hard to read. Do they understand? Are they frustrated? Confused? Lost? I don’t know. I’m chained to a desk…enslaved by debt…missing my children’s education. Missing life.

    Do I work because I am afraid? I’m not willing to go there today.

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