Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Rewilding--The Missing Piece of the Personal & Planetary Puzzle

The books I read often shape the posts I write here. My latest: Marc Bekoff's 2014 book Rewilding Our Hearts: Building Pathways of Compassion and Coexistence. Marc Bekoff might not be a household name, but he's got a litany of credentials: Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, scientist, ethologist, behavioral ecologist, author (of 31 books and 1000+ articles), and a person who's made his life mission one to study animal ethics and human behavior.

The premise of this book is to reconsider our relationship between human and nonhuman animal species through the lens of compassion (which, in turn, begets compassion). "Rewilding" as a mindset shift... and I will say, it took some getting used to considering animals as "nonhuman animals" (for we, too, as humans, are animals). In both the videos below, both Marc & George Monbiot give two similar definitions to each other of rewilding and their impact to both the planet and ourselves as individuals.

Rewilding (as related to people) is closely tied to getting us more in touch with nature, countering nature deficit disorder and "solastagia" (the antithesis of nostalgia--a feeling of stress and loss to our changing environment).

It is through compassion that "we might begin to undo the alienation and fragmentation that currently defines our damaged relationship to the natural world. Compassion will also help us heal our damaged, alienated and fragmented relationships with each other" (page 4).  [That sentence alone reminds me of our current relations with each other on a multitude of topics, all front and center on the current news cycle.] We have lost track of our connection and empathy for others and nature. We have been "unwilding," where we have "eroded our relationships with nature and other beings" (page 35). We need to get back in touch with nature.

I feel like Marc Bekoff and George Monbiot (see below) would be great friends--and make fascinating guests at a dinner party with Richard Louv, Florence Williams, and Wallace J. Nichols.

Major takeaways:
  • We're encouraged to be activists,  not "slacktivists." Even small acts add up when put together.
  • We are born biophiliacs, with the love of nature inside of us.
  • Interconnectedness and interdependence is not just human to human--the greater animal world is tied to that.
  • The "8 P's" of Rewilding include being "proactive, positive, persistent, patient, peaceful, practical, powerful, and passionate" (page 72).
  • We need to get our kids outside--at home AND at school. Recess alone is not enough.
  • "Ecocide is suicide"(page 148).
On that note, I'm closing my laptop (though I was reading and writing outside today) and heading to a local woods with the kids and the dog.

For more follow-up on Marc Bekoff and rewilding, check out his website and read his post on Wildlands Network.

 Videos from and, Image from and

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