What Dave Foreman Says
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You know, when I went back to Washington, D.C., to be a lobbyist in the mid-seventies, a U.S. senator put his arm around my shoulder and said, “You know, Dave, we can work with you. You’re reasonable. You know how to compromise and consider other interest groups.” I was told to put my heart in a safe deposit box and replace my brain with a pocket calculator, to not get emotional. That would harm my argument. I’d ruin my credibility….
But, goddammit, I am emotional! I am passionate. I’m angry. I feel something. I’m not some New Age automaton, some goddamn computer, a pocket calculator. I don’t have silicon chips up here. I’m flesh and blood. The winds fill my lungs, the mountains make my bones, the oceans run through my veins. I’m an animal and I’ll never be anything but an animal. When a chain saw rips into a two-thousand-year-old redwood tree, it’s ripping into my guts. When a bulldozer plows through a virgin hillside, it’s plowing through my side, and when a bullet knocks down a grizzly bear or a wolf, it’s going through my heart….We think with the whole world, we’re alive with the whole world. We’re not blocked off, just these robots, these unfeeling things. But that’s how we’ve become. We’re afraid to love somebody else, to love a place, to feel something because we might get hurt. We don’t want to get hurt. Don’t care about anything, just cut yourself off, be a happy yuppie robot. That’s the way George Bush wants you to be. That’s the way Exxon wants you to be….
About twenty years ago, there was a wonderful little case in northern New Mexico that made all the supermarket checkout stand tabloids. The cattle mutilations. I don’t know if any of you remember that, but dead cows were being found and there were no external wounds on them at all, but their livers were gone. Cut out with surgical precision. And I mean, the ranchers just freaked out. I mean, obviously there were some Satan-worshiping hippies out there with laser beams doing weird rituals with their dead cows. There were little green men with flying saucers doing something. I mean, it got really freaky in northern New Mexico. The governor nearly had to call out the National Guard to quiet things down. But the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association decided to get to the bottom of this. So they hired a retired FBI agent. He took the latest technology, starlight scopes and all this neat stuff, and staked out a dead cow. Every night for a week he watched the dead cow. And you know what he found? I mean, it wasn’t hippies. No Satanists, no laser beams, not a single flying saucer. You know who was doing it? Weasels! Weasels. Little carnivores about this big. Weasels are real smart little critters but they’re also really hungry and they have a real high metabolism. They have to eat their own body weight every day or something like that, or they starve to death. And weasels know dead cow liver is really good. It’s tasty, highly nutritious, easy to chew up. There’s only one problem. If you’re a little weasel this size, there’s a lot of hair, hide, muscle, bone, and fat between you and that cow liver in the dead cow.
But weasels are smart. They know if they walk around the hind legs of that dead cow there’s a perfect pathway in there to the liver. Eat the liver, go home for the day, come back the next night, eat the pancreas. And when I die I want a weasel to crawl up inside of me and eat my liver. I want buzzards to peck my eyeballs out. I want mountain lions to crunch my bones. Because I want to live forever. I don’t want to be pickled and stuck in a lead box. That’s how you die. I want to be recycled. I want to run around the forest on little weasel feet. I want to go back into the flow, I want to be part of the food chain. When death comes, I want to enjoy it. I want to embrace it. Let’s not be afraid of dying. Let’s not kill ourselves. Let’s not pretend that we’re immortal. We’re all gonna die. There’s nothing to be afraid of, nothing to avoid. If you aren’t afraid to die, then you can be happy to live; you aren’t afraid to live, you can open up, you can love somebody else and not be afraid of getting hurt. You can love a place and not worry about losing it, because you have the courage to go out and fight for it.
Earth First! photo on the Great Salt Lake by Len Irish
Susan Zakin 2018