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We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. (Actually appearing as "a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children" in _The Unforeseen Wilderness: An Essay on Kentucky’s Red River Gorge_, published 1971)
If we are to hope to correct our abuses of each other and of other races and of our land, and if our effort to correct these abuses is to be more than a political fad that will in the long run be only another form of abuse, then we are going to have to go far beyond public protest and political action. We are going to have to rebuild the substance and the integrity of private life in this country. We are going to have to gather up the fragments of knowledge and responsibility that we have parceled out to the bureaus and the corporations and the specialists, and we are going to have to put those fragments back together again in our own minds and in our families and households and neighborhoods...We need persons and households that do not have to wait upon organizations but can make necessary changes in themselves, on their own.
It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
To cherish what remains of the Earth and to foster its renewal is our only legitimate hope of survival.
Without a complex knowledge of one’s place and without the faithfulness to one’s place on which such knowledge depends, it is inevitable that the place will be used carelessly, and eventually destroyed. Without such knowledge and faithfulness, moreover, the culture of a country will be superficial and decorative, functional only insofar as it may be a symbol of prestige, the affectation of an elite or “in” group.
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