“There are two things that interest me; the relationship of people to each other, and the relationship of people to land.” – Aldo Leopold
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I like having heroes, and Aldo Leopold belongs in the ranks of my heroes I just haven’t figured out where exactly. Anyway, I agree very much with his sentiment here. I am very concerned with how people relate to each other. I watch my family closely. I watch interactions between professors and students, public figures and…the public, my roommates, my ward…everyone really. I try to watch the way I relate to people as well but I find that much more difficult, I’m too harsh on myself because I can see every guilty motive behind interactions, even if those motives are small.
Humans are social creatures so it isn’t surprising that I would be interested in how we interact. The few TV shows I infrequently watch are because I am curious about how the characters interact with each other. I want people to get along with each other so much. I want there to be peace and harmony and understanding between people. I deplore the biting jibes and sarcastic humors that undermine our relationships with the people we love most. I hate it most when it comes out of my own mouth.
I don’t know yet how religious Leopold was, my gut feeling is he wasn’t much for organized faith. But when I think about what my relationship to the land means to me and what it probably meant to him I can’t keep my religious sentiments out of it. The land is the context of humanity. Our relationship to the land is how we fit into the big picture of life, our place in the ecosystem of plants, microbes, insects and so forth. Essentially this is the same as our place in the universe or where we stand in relation to the infinite. Is this not really our relationship with God? Although there are certainly religious people who care nothing for the environmental and plenty of environmentalists who care nothing for God I can’t help but wonder if the feelings of awe and respect some feel for land or for God are not the same thing at their root.
So Mr Leopold, I too care for how people relate to each other and for how we all relate to God. Aren’t the two great commandments love God and love your fellow man? Concern for our relationship with God and our relationship with other people.