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Mar 1, 2007
Good Morning Friends!

I got a thought provoking letter from a Care2 member who seemed to take issue with my subsistence lifestyle here on a remote Alaskan island.  This wonderful person gave me occasion to once again re-consider, re-think my lifeways and my relationship to the planet.  I am always grateful to be prompted to do so...it keeps me honest with myself and with my spirit. 
For want of a better blog topic today, I would like to share this with you...
It is, no doubt, because of my self-centeredness that I anticipate debate on this topic...nevertheless, I am at peace with this pathway and, respectfully said, have neither the time, nor the energy to debate any well-intentioned and noble spirit on this matter.

Still, it is a question worthy of personal self-examination...and, to paraphrase a spiriual mentor of mine, "an unexamined life is not worth living."

Blessings Y'all,

michael


Original Message:

-----------------

Hi Michael
You like freshly caught seafood? Hmm. So humans have rights but not animals? Why not?
I liked the rest of your profile by the way.
Cheers,
*******





Good Morning, ********,

Your question is a good one, and one long and thoughtfully pondered in the living of my days here on the planet.
For me, the answer revolves around three, perhaps four crucial issues: Ahimsa, social evolution, location, and necessity.
From the spiritual point of view, Ahimsa, or the practice of doing NO harm is one I respect...but have chosen for a number of reasons (some dealt with below) to draw the line where I have because I fully believe that the science is in on the fact that even vegetable matter "feels" pain at being harvested...the most rigorous practitioners of ahimsa starve themselves to death rather than harm any living matter.  I come close to the philosophy of Gary Snyder's form of ahimsa, "do no unecessary harm."
As far as rights are concerned, broadly speaking from an evolutionary perspective, there are no natural or inherent rights...we get a body and a planet to live upon and the remainder is up to us.  That being said, social evolution delivers us to this present point where many rights are, rightfully and correctly, bestowed by social institutions, and these are the principles I have tried to instill in my children and grandchildren, the principles I myself treasure and live by.  As we live and evolve, those rights, and ethical ideals are bestowed upon an expanding circle of creatures...and wonderfully so.  Our "humanity" can only be judged by how we treat those without voice who share this planet with us.
I live in an area on the planet that enjoys over four meters of cold rainfall a year, with an average temperature of 10C.  The soil here on my island is only recently liberated from the mass of glacial encroachment and is but a few centimeters of humus and clay over bedrock and karst.  Our growing season is limited to a handful of weeks and the threats of snow and rain storm, late and early frosts often take the best of our gardening efforts...when those wealthy enough to have had topsoil barged to the island in quantities necessary for any sort of life-sustaining agriculture have garden areas adequate to do so.  We do what we can, but remain very much at the mercy of the elements which are, at best, indifferent to our industry. 
The nearest market of high-priced, transported-over-immense-distances-to-get-here products, is over forty kilometers away over a one-and-a-half lane rutted logging road, and the petrol for any vehicle capable of making the journey is exhorbitant, to say the least...not to mention the environmental harm done in availing onesself of their utility.  Our limited financial resources are commited to mini-hydro and full solar homebuilding, restoring our used, 60 year-old wooden fishing boat, and building a writers' and artists' retreat...therefore, necessity factors heavily into our decision to live off the grid and away from the  environmental indifference, power-mad, and materialistc nature of today's society, a place where our intention and desire for a peace and spirit-filled life make a difference in our personal characters and in the interactions of our far-flung like-living neighbors.
Of necessity, we harvest solely according to personal, life-sustaining need, animal and vegetable matter abundant in the forests and seas surrounding us; and we are intensely grateful for every part of the chains of life that we put into our mouths to sustain the further growth and evolution of our spirits. 

I do hope this difference of where our personal lines of ahimsa might be drawn does not prevent us from connecting as friends here on Care2.

Blessings,

michael s. queen

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Posted: Mar 1, 2007 12:28pm

 

 
 
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Michael Queen
, 2, 1 child
Thorne Bay, AK, USA
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