Save Markham Hill and Earth Herself (Speech to Fayetteville City Council)

(Featured image: “March of Progress” by Mark Henson)

I speak on behalf of the voiceless, the trees and animals ignored by the religion of money. I speak for preserving Nature on endangered Markham Hill and beyond. I speak also to confront that misleading, Orwellian euphemism “development”.

How many understand it takes soil thousands of years to form, and once scraped away and covered in concrete it takes thousands of years to repair? How many comprehend that forests and ecosystems are the culmination of millions of years of geological and biological evolution? What can be more developed? Answer: Nothing! Scraping away forests and fields is destruction, not that lie “development.”

Even if one dismisses science, and believes everything is the Creation of a Divine Mind, this still holds true. If God created a beautiful garden full of birds and clean rivers full of fish, who are we to wantonly destroy it? Is environmental Armageddon the desired destiny? Are we to accept Ann Coulter’s Biblical interpretation that our role is to rape Mother Earth? To mindlessly destroy this beautiful creation is a massive insult and giant middle finger to the Divine Artist.

As Joni Mitchell sang, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot(and) you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

We must accept past destruction, but also strive to minimize and undo destruction. It will take millennia to repair the miracles of evolutionary development we destroyed, or make amends for disrespect we’ve shown God.

We must abandon the idea that growth is inherently good. Endless, unsustainable growth is the recipe for planetary death, and a very ugly future for our endangered grandchildren. We must abandon pathological measures of economic well being.

Robert Kennedy gave a speech on this in 1968, saying,“Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities. It counts (rifles and knives used by murderers), and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, (or) compassion…it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Humans can live without most of what we call “the economy,” but the things we cannot live without are all environmental. Our bodies cannot live without clean water and healthy soil to produce food. Our minds and spirits cannot thrive without the beauty nature provides. Environmental health is the fundamental basis of any sane and sustainable economy.

Some look at a forest or field and only see dollar signs instead of natural beauty. We must not let this infantile short sighted vision rule. We need forward thinking leadership that envisions a world with more forests and truly sustainable housing.

Little Rock set precedent for Markham Hill, our last major inner city greenspace, to imminently be the domain of a nature park. Contact Fayetteville leaders, please.

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