Today is the twentieth anniversary of the death of Edward Paul Abbey. Some of you may have heard of him.
Twenty is not a particularly auspicious number; it doesn’t figure prominently in any esoteric spiritual traditions, doesn’t add up to anything revealing in some obscure codex. It’s a significant part of a human generation, marking the passage of one third of my own life on this earth.
Since March 14, 1989, much has happened on our poor abused and insulted planet, much of which Ed saw coming and warned us about repeatedly. His arguments about the fallibility and ultimate illegitimacy of government have proven true in the extreme, despite a recent apparent turnaround. Anarchy still is the only legitimate form of human social organization, yet to be taken serious.
Ten days from today will be the twentieth anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the day we woke up in Valdez, still mourning Ed’s death, still recovering from another unreported oil spill in Port Valdez just four days before. It was a bizarre March and a bizarre year.
On this twentieth year I detect a stirring, particularly among those of us increasingly feeling our own mortality. It’s time for our last howl, our final opportunity to stand up on our hind legs and strike a blow for sanity, for environmental protest, for the Earth.
Climate change is among us; there’s no stopping it, no matter how many Priuses we drive. The future will be far different than the past, closer to Ed’s vision of “a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers, and artists” than the computerized technowizardry of the cell phone set.
Twenty years from now, we’ll look up from our work in our gardens and wonder at the nightmare of twenty years past.
Sleep well, Ed.
“Let our people travel light and free on their bicycles.”
– Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire