The following few excerpts are from Sanctuary Asia (April 2010), India’s leading wildlife, conservation and environment magazine. Sanctuary Asia was started by Editor Bittu Sahgal (a long-time friend and trustee of WILD) in 1981 to raise awareness among Indians of their disappearing natural heritage. In this four page spread, Bittu and Vance talk about wilderness, their mentors and friends and the future of WILD. The excerpts below are ones that I thought our blog readers would be most interested in — they tell a lot about Vance and in turn WILD. I encourage you to read the full article as well (download in PDF).
It’s been a long ride Vance, what was the real trigger? What sucked you into defending the wilderness?
Once I met Ian, my personal but general commitment to nature turned very specifically to wilderness. We quickly sized each other up – me 31 and he 54 – and felt a mutual trust and instinctive bond. After a bit he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse”… a job of sorts, bags of responsibility, some good connections, committed mentoring – and no money. “If you raise the money to make it work, you can do what you want.” Sounded right to me, despite the reality that I had no income, no family money to fall back on and a wife and two young children.
What does the wilderness mean to you personally Vance?
Wilderness has a sense of proportion. It has beauty, efficiency, complex relationships and interactions and a good “feedback loop” – if it cannot integrate input, you know it. It is dynamic, tangible and real, yet there is always “something else,” a mystical quality. It is also a learning environment. Within its workings are clues to all the practical solutions and spiritual context we need to live as a technologically advanced, healthy and prosperous human society – if only we understood it!
How do we handle the conundrum of the forest, ecosystem people and nature? How should ordinary people battle money-power from destroying what is precious?
We live in a complex world with competing and valid demands, priorities and agendas. That said, a simple, basic principle needs to be at the core of every household, company, community and government. While “taking care of nature” is just one of many valid social/human priorities, it is the first among equals because if we trash our home, we trash ourselves. If we disrespect the mother who raised us, we disrespect ourselves. By this, I don’t mean Nature Worship – I mean “common sense”. Spread the word! Each of us needs to practice it, nicely insist upon it, vote for it, and say thank you when people do it.
And your message to the children of tomorrow?
Please do not blame us too much for the mess you inherit, for that will only fester within you. Have faith, take action, do your best, and have fun.