A Chat with David
Wiliam Buck: Do you still consider yourself a youth?
David Brower: Yes. I consider myself a very young 85.
WB: When you first met Ansel Adams, you were only 21 years-old. You've obviously been committed as an activist since you were very young and you've made it this far. What was it that helped you stay active for so long?
DB: The thing that bothers me about this civilization now
is, I guess in our education system and wherever else, there's this sense
of wonder which comes into every child and there seems to be this great
urge to smash it, to get rid of it. Let's not.
WB: Or "Call Dave!" Do you mind if we print your number, just in case a young leader needs some advice?
DB: No, call me. But don't expect me to answer a letter, I haven't learned how to do that yet.
WB: What advice do you have for young people active in today's environmental movement?
DB: Get out of the country! Get out of the country
and don't go there to see how great we are, go there to see how great
they are and what they've remembered that we've forgotten. Primarily,
in so-called developing countries. This is the thing I would like
to remind young people of.
WB: What are some other steps you think young folks could take to become more sustainable as activists in the movement?
DB: I'm very anxious for everybody to listen to what Father Thomas Berry said: "We should put the bible on the shelf for 20 years and read the Earth." Think about that, "read the Earth". It's an extraordinarily beautiful thing to read and it's hard to understand and we never will understand all of what's going on. It's the challenge of trying to figure it out a little more. Just to look out there, whether you're looking at a leaf or watching a bird.
WB: One of the things about our friendship that really inspires me is that neither of us has lost his sense of wonder. How have you retained your sense of wonder for 85 years?
DB: There's just so many things to look at. I've just had
a lot of experience getting into places where the wonders you're looking
at are natural. Over billions of years, nature has been figuring
out how the hell to run this planet and it's done a pretty good job.
We haven't done that good a job and I'd like to get back out to see, well,
what's it look like when it's done right?
WB: How is today's younger generation different from your generation at the same age?
DB: The Earth has been terribly wounded and too many things
have been used up; too much carelessness. We forgot to care and
when you don't care you get a substitute reaction: hopelessness; "There's
nothing you can do about it, it's inevitable." There's a line
that goes, "Inevitable? Not if we say 'No!'"
WB: How do you think young people should deal with the legacy that has been left them?
DB: I think there's a very big obligation on the older
people, all of whom have been young once, and have tended to forget
it. It's not easy out there. Right now, particularly.
It's so different.
WB: Well, to lighten things up, what do you think about the idea of having fun?
DB: Well... I do believe in fun.
copyright © 1997 William R. Buck