Jul 16 2008

Profile Image of Walt

Thinking Global, Hiking Local

Posted at 9:17 am under Blog Post

French Hill is only four miles away from my doorstep. With gas over $4 a gallon, I’ve been going there on a more regular basis. The main spine of the Green Mountains is thirty miles away so a trip to it now costs as much as a movie ticket. That’s food for thought.

French Hill isn’t much of a hill, really. It’s a long, broad ridge just east of my home town. It’s roughly two square miles of undeveloped woods, destined to become a town forest someday. Not exactly wilderness, but when cash for gas is tight, it’ll do. A couple days ago, I entered it by the main logging road, then bushwhacked along a due north compass bearing, occassionally catching a glimpse of the beaver pond located in the heart of those woods. Eventually I tagged a trail and followed it northeast. My dog, Matika, led the way – her nose close to the ground, sniffing fresh deer tracks. The warm, still air made us both easy prey for deer flies.

While swatting away flies, I thought about how actions taken by those living on the other side of the planet were now changing my behavior. The increasing demand for energy in China, India and other emerging economies has driven the price of oil over $100 a barrel during the past year, so now here I am, hiking closer to home more often than not. Although I’m a passionate advocate of Yankee individualism, I can’t ignore the reality of globalism – a force that has become increasingly more powerful since the end of the Cold War and the birth of the Internet. To what extent will it redefine me? To what extent will it redefine all of humankind?

The opponents to globalism come in a variety of flavors: Luddites, environmentalists, trade unionists, nationalists, small businessmen, religious fundamentalists, indigenous peoples, local farmers, leftists, reactionaries and so on. One would be hard-pressed to find anything these groups have in common other than their fear of homogenization and multinational corporations taking over the world. But I’m convinced that stopping globalism is akin to keeping the sun from rising in the morning. It’s a force greater than any nation, group, business or individual, and it’s going to change us all whether we like it or not.

After passing through an open meadow, I noticed that the half dozen deer flies buzzing around Matika’s head had thickened into a small cloud of them. Because my long-haired German shepherd heats up faster than I do, she was getting the worst of these critters. So more for her sake than mine, I cut the exploratory hike short. I turned southward and looped back to the car. I’d stretched my legs for a few miles, touched base with the wild, and that was enough for the time being.

During the short drive home, I resolved to head for the mountains soon, expensive gas or no. All the same, that won’t change the global situation, or make it any easier to ignore what’s going on around me. Now more than ever, I feel a sense of responsibility to do whatever small part I can to direct the forces of globalism, inasmuch as they can be directed, so that they do more good than harm. Tall order, I realize, but the alternative isn’t acceptable. I’m not one to look backwards and pine for the good old days. Bring on the future whatever it may be.

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Thinking Global, Hiking Local”

  1. Judyon 17 Jul 2008 at 6:15 am 1

    My favorite piece yet!

  2. Pete Yates, Tucsonon 19 Jul 2008 at 2:00 pm 2

    It’s high time that this superb and unique writer has a blog. Don’t just stop here with this first blog; read each and savor the wild.
    This is no pantywaste…yet this is no macho madman either. McLaughlin stands alone as a wilderness philosopher who transcends simple “nature” writing. More than ever we need authors of his caliber. He takes you on a journey into your own psyche…your own tangled wilderness…but, like the caring guide, never leaves you abandoned.
    Buy his books. Read his books. Learn. Grow.
    It’s about time that we have a truly unique and strong and compassionate voice to call to us from the wilds of our collective spirit.
    It’s about time that we have a guide to our redemption.

  3. Walton 30 Jul 2008 at 7:54 am 3

    Guide to redemption? Yikes! I can’t live up to that, Peter. How about guide to alternative thinking, instead?