Keeping Well is a Community Project

A recent misprint of my column passively titled, “Keeping well with each other”, triggered my need to emphasize why I chose the more active title, KEEPING EACH OTHER WELL, as my springboard for the last five years.

Whether we tick off Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs, or Aldo Leopold’s, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” both approaches recognize that Keeping Well is a community project, not something we can do on our own. Everything we do impacts everything else alive in connections we may only begin to recognize.

Maslow’s list has to do mainly with human needs: physiological, safety, love and belonging, self esteem and self actualization (some form of enlightenment). Leopold adds a much deeper need or recognition that we are connected to every living thing, including animals we kill. I’d add birds, chipmunks, frogs, cabbage worms, trees, and the infinite more that are out there breathing along with us.

Today, Thoreau’s dictum, “In wildness is the salvation of the world,” continues to gain in relevance. Whether we stand on the Sugarloaf Mts. in full view of the Presidentials atop a huge valley of fall foliage brilliant among the evergreens, or the nearest maple in our neighborhood, we can see the tree’s transition from live leaves that drop, yet leave spring buds behind to wait out the winter.

Something softens like a healing balm when a natural panorama presents itself, whether it is a valley, a couple of fawns crossing the road or a cub rambling back into the woods, a surprise waterfall, or the sight of a few rainbow trout in a stream, all possible because we or people before us saved the wilderness. What kind of legacy are we actively pursuing that will keep our people healthy in the future?

Bill McKibben says we need to learn how to fit in rather than dominate the planet. Will we figure out how to fit in?

How keen an eye are we keeping on our water supply, our soil, our air, the safety of our power lines? Do our laws reflect how much we value available health care and education for everyone, and a living wage for work done? Are we committed to Keeping Each Other Well?

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