The wonder and the wild

Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis for man’s desire to understand.  — Neil Armstrong

As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder. — Leonard Cohen

There will always be controversy over the nature of the unknown, and more specifically, on how we humans ought to be coping with it.  Not everything can fit nicely into what we like to think of as our tidy, well-organized, hygienic human culture.  And hallelujah, thank the Universe it doesn’t!  What if we humans really did understand everything about our planet and our role on it — then what would we have to learn, to reach for?  How can we better our environment if there’s nothing more to learn about it?  If we can only allow ourselves to admit that we don’t have all the answers, we will be better caretakers of our earth and of our neighbors.  This world and all of its inhabitants are far better off with some mysteries to ponder.

So, in belated honor of Earth Day, here are a few quotes I’ve come across in my recent readings about the mystery of this little old mess of land and water that we call home.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

To allow mystery, which is to say to yourself, “There could be more, there could be things we don’t understand,” is not to damn knowledge.  It is to take a wider view.  It is to permit yourself an extraordinary freedom:  someone else does not have to be wrong in order that you may be right.

— Barry Lopez, Of Wolves and Men

How much should we respect nature’s autonomy?  How much should we try to manipulate and control it to save it?  Do we know enough to risk doing it?  And what happens if we get it wrong? (These questions) have not been conclusively answered, nor should they be.  They are more useful as questions that ought to be asked every time we face any decision about preserving life on earth than any answer we can give today.

— Jordan Fisher Smith, Engineering Eden

People who go around muttering about God make me nervous.  It seems to me that the word “mystery,” not capitalized, should suffice.

–Edward Abbey, Abbey’s Road

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