The Corner

‘I Love Thy Rocks and Rills . . .’

I’m sympathetic to David Frum and Rod Dreher’s concerns that the Right doesn’t take seriously enough Americans’ responsibility as stewards of our little part of God’s creation (though I did think the granola bar stunt was funny). Iain is right, of course, that market-based approaches are generally superior, but our problem is not one of policies, but of values. The apolitical general public just doesn’t think we really value clean air and water, open space and wilderness — any more than they believe the Left’s bogus claims to be patriotic or support strong national defense. This is why we need more than policy papers, as necessary as they are — we need efforts that convey to others, and reinforce in ourselves, an emotional and symbolic commitment to care for nature. One part of that might be to stop trying to play me-too on “Earth Day,” and instead promote a patriotic environmentalism by focusing on Arbor Day, the national observance of which comes on the last Friday in April (the day after tomorrow). It’s American in origin, started in Nebraska in 1872 by Julius Sterling Morton, and can be combined with our history by planting cuttings and seedlings from historic trees — a red maple from Mount Vernon, a white oak from Lincoln’s tomb, an oleander from Edison’s Florida estate, etc. Our superior policies on the environment will get a hearing when people believe that we believe the second verse of “My County, ’Tis of Thee”:

My native country, thee,

Land of the noble free,

Thy name I love;

I love thy rocks and rills,

Thy woods and templed hills;

My heart with rapture thrills,

Like that above.

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