Perhaps we have forgotten the bitter complaint made by Benjamin Franklin in 1753: “When an Indian Child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our Customs, yet if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian Ramble with them, there is no perswading him ever to return.” But when European Americans “have been taken prisoners young by the Indians, and lived a while among them, tho’ ransomed by their Friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a Short time they become disgusted with our manner of life … and take the first good Opportunity of escaping again into the Woods, from whence there is no reclaiming them.” In 1785 Hector de Crèvecoeur asked two European refuseniks why they wouldn’t come home. “The reasons they gave me would greatly surprise you: the most perfect freedom, the ease of living, the absence of those cares and corroding solicitudes which so often prevail with us.”
So goes a passage in an essay by George Monbiot in the NYTIMES entitled
Monbiot suggests that we rewild parts of our land and rewild ourselves in the process.
We don’t have to give up our washing machines and computers and eyeglasses and longevity to shed our ecological boredom and recover some measure of the freedom that has been denied to us. Perhaps we do need to remember who we are.