Headed to Bhutan

I explain to Ranger why he cannot travel to Bhutan. He isn't happy.
I explain to Ranger why he cannot travel to Bhutan. He isn’t happy.

Ranger is in a small standoff with me. He wants to go to Bhutan with us. He complains, saying that the plane would be a good place for him to curl up and fall asleep. I explain the difficulty of getting visas, and he is not comforted.

Ranger: “I know, I know. You’ve saved up your carbon credits, your airline miles and your passions, but surely you could take me along.”

Me: “Just can’t! You couldn’t get a visa. And there are a lot of stray dogs there, so you’d be in constant defense mode. Just be glad you can keep the home fires burning.”

Ranger: “WHY are you going? I don’t get it.”

Me: “This has been a dream of mine for 50 years. When I met Darryl, it was part of the first conversation we had…. and he just laughed. He was working with ‘The Wild Orchid Man,” and was planning to go. Now he accuses of me of marrying him so that I can go to Bhutan. They plan to film there, and I can go along.”

Ranger: “What’s so great about Bhutan?”

Me: “Let’s do a contrast with Florida. Florida is the land of development, of more and more tourism, of yet more shopping malls, phosphate mines…..  and yet more corruption that is swept under the rug. Bhutan runs at a different pace: things happen slowly. This mountainous country does not measure Gross National Product, but Gross National Happiness. It is a huge carbon sink. Nearly 80% of it’s forests remain untouched. Getting a visa is not easy….. tourists are carefully considered before they are allowed to come in.”

Ranger: “So you want to be able to make this contrast into something that people here understand? You wish to call attention to a need for a shift in priorities in our culture so that we can help save the planet?”

Me: “I couldn’t have said it better. And, we know that you’re happy staying with your friends in town.”

Ranger: “Okay, as long as you come back. I agree with what you are trying to do. Be well, and travel safely.”

Our Ode To Books

The Dogter is in. Lots of work at the computer today.
The Dogter recommends reading and reflecting. Exercise isn’t bad either… 

In many ways, books saved my life. I grew up in a legacy of books. My first bookshelf was in a one-room Iowa country school, which had about 20 dog-eared volumes in total. I also raided the study of my preacher father, sneaking books to bed with me. Eventually a book by Taylor Caldwell captured my experience. It was titled “Growing Up Tough,” which we did, my seven siblings and I. Books presented that other, bigger and more diverse world, much more adventurous  than the repetitive life of female responsibility I contemplated in the 1050’s.

Ranger’s ears prick up when I describe the countryside I experienced. I was outside, safe and happy climbing trees, running along fence rows and bicycling the dusty gravel roads.

Ranger: “So what did you learn in all of that?”

Me: “Believe me, I learned no more than I was supposed to learn, from the books. My Bible was bound in white leather and had a zipper (girls got white!)! While the “Book of Knowledge” volumes were wonderfully exciting, I got little in the way of real challenge. The books I could get supported the world view in our home. That view was human centered under a wrathful God watching for my every sin. Let’s face it, that is still the dominant view in our culture. Since Aristotle, Western thought has decreed that “nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man.” God gave humans dominion over nature… but HE watched carefully to make sure you did it HIS way! Didn’t the Bible say we should be fruitful, multiply and have dominion over Earth? Didn’t my father extol missionaries above all, as they brought this same word to the heathen peoples in foreign lands? But from being outside in nature? I learned more than you can imagine.

Ranger: “So bring it into the present age. Tell me more about having dominion…. That makes no sense to me. What are you learning now?”

Me: “Well, it means that development (that is, controlling nature) is a good. It means that mono-crops of wheat, corn and soybeans are better for the bottom line, and therefore are good. It now means that skyscrapers in Miami are a good for Florida, even while the streets below are being equipped with pumps to remove the rising sea water. It means that clear cutting of the Amazonian forests is a good thing in the same way that the American Southeast was clear cut of the vast ‘Piney Woods’ that stretched from Virginia to Texas, including much of Florida. It means that we can invent our way out of the problems of carbon emissions. It means that we can view the melting of the Arctic as a marvelous new shipping opportunity. It means that privatization of Florida’s parks will boost revenues … and all of that would be good.”

Ranger: “Okay, reading is good. Keep at it. One day soon you might even amount to something.”