No matter ones personal associations with a word, one must still remain aware of the actual definition. A cursory glance through the internet offered me two quick definitions for environmentalism.
- A theory that views environment rather than heredity as the important factor in the development and especially the cultural and intellectual development of an individual or group
- Advocacy of the preservation, restoration, or improvement of the natural environment
After this discovery I was surprised to find that my personal beliefs and the dictionary definitions for this word remain the same.
The reason why traveling is good for people is due to the fact that it is a change in environment that most of us need in our lives to continue making new ideas and touching on new boundaries. A book I read once put it best, it said: “The experience of another culture endows the traveler with a valuable open-mindedness, making it easier for him or her to realize that a single thing can have multiple meanings. We need to completely change environments in order to feel the disorienting diversity of human traditions.”
Experiencing new things and new places automatically sets us up to make new opinions and form new views on our lives and values. The more often a person changes their setting the more often they set themselves up to learn. Most people base their values off of things they have learned so it stands to reason that based on where a person has grown up most of their life, this place is where they formulated their world view. How we behave and interact is then a result of the specific setting we find ourselves in.
While no doubt heredity is a powerful driver for character (which I take as the culmination of one’s intellectual and cultural development) learning how to see is a huge factor in a person’s development. I do believe that the first definition for environmentalism is true as I see its effects in my own life.
My friend once told me that he believes we have multiple faces. One face we show our families, one we show to our friends, and the third face we only reveal to ourselves and seldom is this face present in our daily lives. This is an extremely sound idea in that I see this philosophy in the people closest to me. This idea supports the first definition of environmentalism because the faces reveal themselves based on ones environment only during a certain state in time. If a person spends too much time in one face then they get comfortable and end up assuming that face for most of their waking time. The third face, who we really are, is one we all could spend more time with.
Finding the right environment will give us that opportunity.
I love the environments of our natural world because of the lessons I learn while in them and I hope to preserve them for later generations. With this in mind I’d be hard-pressed not to call myself an environmentalist. There’s a feeling I can’t quite put my finger on when I’m among the trees and pristine waters. Something about my focus and sense of purpose is different and the more time I spend outdoors, the closer it feels to becoming home. It not only feels comfortable, but is almost similar to a feeling of pride. Growing up in an outdoorsy family I have had a short lifetime of opportunities to see why I want my future children to be able to have the same experiences in the outdoors. I want my children to have the same opportunities to see the world’s wild places as I have in mine generation.
It is a small representation of a bigger problem, but my favorite line is, “I don’t want to raise children in a world where Polar Bears no longer exist.”
I must be an environmentalist.