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Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Published: 1/1/2013

No real risk in hoping for a brighter 2013

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

We are a hopeful lot, we people of this planet. With the arrival of a new year also comes a surge in our expectations that the simple change in the bold number at the top of the calendar will unlock a cache of good tidings.

We offer a toast, we launch fireworks, and then we step gingerly into 2013, accompanied by hope and anticipation. Despite the many concerns spawned by the often messy world around us, we manage to glimpse sunshine somewhere beyond the horizon.

At the risk of sounding too much like the explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau, if we relied strictly on logic, we would see only ominous and menacing clouds. But since we are human beings, we allow faith and hope to persuade us that, by working together, we can outwit logic through hard work and persistence.

At the risk of sounding too much like the philosopher, medical missionary and Nobel Peace Prize winner Albert Schweitzer, in 2013 we will need more truly wise individuals in this world — those who don’t see everything as either all rosy or everything as dark — but instead they march on, virtually colorblind.

We expect to enjoy the outdoors more in 2013, and appreciate it immensely. At the risk of sounding too much like the naturalist John Muir, in order to truly thrive we need beauty in our lives, just as much as we need bread. Nature’s splendor helps us heal, strengthens our souls and our bodies, and provides us with a place to play and a place to pray.

We hope to seek out fresh sites for those activities in this new year, find stones that are unturned, and view landscapes where man’s influence is not possible to detect. At the risk of sounding too much like the singer and guru of the laid-back, Jimmy Buffett, our search for great things provides a lot of enjoyment, so we hope to look at our lives as a scavenger hunt, instead of a surprise party.

We expect to encounter in nature many things that we will not fully understand. At the risk of sounding too much like the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein, the “mysterious” out there has an inherent beauty. He called it “the source of all true art and science” and that statement might have as much sustainable clout as his mass/energy equivalence formula.

We desperately hope this new year brings a sensible and aggressive move toward keeping the invasive Asian carp out of our Great Lakes. We have painfully endured the bureaucratic Tower of Babel approach to this impending disaster, the one employed by the upper reaches of our government, while the real workers down the administrative food chain have not been given the tools or authority to stop the fish and its evil march.

At the risk of sounding too much like Dr. Seuss, the questions raised by this issue are often complex, but the answer seems so simple — to keep something out, you close the door.

In 2013, we hope reason and sensibility prevail, and that going green just for the sake of going green does not translate into a phalanx of wind turbines along the Lake Erie shore — what would amount to an avian firing squad. Completely retooling our energy plan is a veritable trek up the backside of Everest, and at the risk of sounding too much like William Shakespeare, to climb a hill that steep requires a slow pace at first.

We have had a wafer of hope and very measured expectations invested in our politicians as they harrumphed and postured their way toward the “fiscal cliff”, straight-jacketed by ideology. At the risk of sounding too much like the Rev. Jim Ignatowski from thecTV show Taxi, witnessing these two sides pummel themselves senseless as a matter of course, sadly has again shown what separates man from the animals.

On that issue and others, we cling to a strand of hope that both parties realize that anchoring themselves to strident positions usually results in bloody, Pyrrhic victories for both sides — and nothing gets done. At the risk of sounding too much like the late Rodney King, we hope that for once, we could all just get along, for the benefit of everyone.

There is also hope that in the new year we will see more people take an active role in conservation, in protecting our wild places, and preserving our outdoors treasures. At the risk of sounding too much like Mark Twain, 20 years from now we don’t want to be disappointed by the things we failed to do. We need to leave the safety of the familiar, fill the sails, and then explore, dream and discover, just like Twain suggested.

In 2013 we should probably stop stressing over the micro-miniscule chance of an asteroid crashing into earth, because at the risk of sounding too much like the astrophysicist Carl Sagan, there are likely billions of them, and we live on a tiny freckle on a pepper flake in this immeasurable cosmos.

At the risk of sounding too much like a desperate Miss America candidate, here’s hoping we focus more close to home in 2013, and help our veterans, feed our hungry, and teach our children to respect their world, and each other. Let’s not just tell them, but let’s show them how to care.

And when we make demands of that mug in the mirror each morning, let’s not consider it a risk at all if we sound just like the ornithologist and naturalist John James Audubon, who said: “A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his father’s, but borrowed from his children.”

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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