Walden In Review

Henry David Thoreau, a true transcendentalist, began his new, secluded life in Concord near Walden Pond. His mission was to live simply without the use of most material objects.  He started the journey as an experiment, but greatly enjoyed his time there. He connected with nature and tried to truly understand himself and his purpose. He thought that people should not rely on objects but rather look inward and spend time understanding themselves. He believed that each person was individually important and stated, “Even the Chinese philosopher was wise enough to regard the individual as the basis of the empire.” ( Thoreau 250 ). Because of these rather strong philosophies, he would most likely not condone the behavior modern American citizens consider normal.

 

One large part of daily life in modern America is traffic. Whether by foot on sidewalks, on bikes up mountains, or cars on roads, everyone is always out and moving. There is hardly such thing as a rural area. Noise pollution, and light pollution leak into every forrest. One can hear cars rushing by and smoke rising from chimneys, and cell tower lights can be heard even from mountain tops and lakes. He would have hated this. In fact, in reference to traffic from a cattle-train he went as far as to say, “I will not have my eyes put out and my ears spoiled by its smoke and steam hissing.” ( Thoreau 86 ). That quote acknowledges that Thoreau didn’t like his quiet, peaceful life interrupted by others’ more fast-paced lives.

Another thing that Thoreau would not have approved of is how routine the lives of most Americans have become. Every day, children go to school, ride the bus, and eat the same three foods day after day. They sit in the same seat, go to the same classes and read the same books every single year. He would especially hate that children’s lives are dictated by a bell schedule. Even adults have a routine. They wake up, drink their coffee, drive to work, drive home, make dinner, and repeat. “The shore is irregular enough not to be monotonous.” ( Thoreau 127 ). This quote demonstrates how Thoreau loved Walden pond very much and one of the many reasons was its inconsistencies.

In America, for a long time now, people have been misusing our resources. However, recently, treatment of the one and only earth has been severely lacking. Deforestation, overuse of water, species extinction, climate change and water contamination are just a few examples of how little we respect the ground we walk on. Thoreau would be thoroughly disappointed. He viewed the earth as valuable as the heaven above. “ Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” ( Thoreau 189 ). He thought that nature was sacred and not to be tarnished or destroyed by mankind.

Thoreau, in general would be greatly disappointed in modern America. Nowadays, people care too much about money, materials, and socialization. Hardly anyone takes time to reflect on their lives and thoughts, and hardly anyone cares about how they negatively impact the world by choosing laziness, convenience and excess rather than, hard work and integrity. He would be disappointed that not many people even care about philosophies or philosophers such as himself.

Books: Silent Spring

I enjoyed Silent Spring very much. It was a heavily factual exposé, yet it kept my interest throughout by adding lots of detail and personal opinion. I already knew that Earth’s environment was not in good shape, however I did not know the extent of how toxic these pesticides and herbicides were. The only aspect of the book that I did not enjoy was how dated it was. Of course it was not Rachel Carson’s fault that all of her sources came from the late 50’s, but since it was a newer edition with an updated introduction and afterword. I was hoping the book would include footnotes with more recent studies in order to fully understand what is happening currently. This book left me with a lot of question that I hope to research on my own and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to learn about the world around them.

Movie Night: Erin Brockovich

On Saturday the 6th of February I watched a movie called Erin Brockovich about the negative environmental and health effects of Chromium 6. At first I was not sure about how good the movie was going to be, but it was actually inspiring. It made me want to help people the way she did while at the same time learning crazy things about science.

 

When I was younger I always wanted to be a mailman or a detective. The reason I wanted to be a mailman was because of the unexplainable joy I would feel opening envelopes and packages with my name on them and I’ve always wanted to make people happy. The reason I wanted to be a detective was because I have always enjoyed solving mysteries. It has, during the past two years, become clear that science is a way that I can accomplish both. Finding the animal tracks is a mystery, and inventing water filters for developing countries is certainly one way to help people.

 

Overall this movie sparked the part of me that is interested in scientific activism and awoke my inner scientist. I plan on conducting water tests locally and finding more about water safety regulations.