Dieter Paulmann, founder of Okeanos, and the man who’d conceived of an audacious Pacific voyaging project (see PacificVoyagers.org), had invited me to lunch just before I left the Hawaiian isle of Kauai. The setting—overlooking Hanalei Bay and the seven traditional-style Pacific voyaging craft called vakas that had just arrived the night before (including the one I rode on overnight from Ohahu)—made a great backdrop for conversation. As did the timing—just after the Summit that Dieter had convened to bring Pacific peoples and scientists together, and just before the voyagers would set sail for North America.
We were almost finished when Dieter had the idea of my writing a series of essays that were information-rich but also filled with humanity. For lack of a word for such essays, and because the first ones would introduce major topics, we started calling them “tutorials.” The first ones come as amalgamated excerpts adapted from my book, The View From Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World. As I write new pieces about other big topics, I will also look for news that stands for larger themes.
The largest theme that runs throughout all, is this: Nature and human dignity require each other. At this point in time, with so many of us here now, many of our co-voyaging species can continue to exist only if we humans let them. But people in demolished landscapes devoid of recognizable nature, living where mere survival trumps all other concerns, people who themselves are trying just to exist—such people lack the power or the will to concern themselves with maintaining their landscapes or other species. Because people in such situations lose the likelihood of getting back on their feet (think of Haiti), this loss of nature hardens into the deepest kind of spiritual and material human poverty. That’s what I am talking about. And that’s why I say that the largest theme that runs throughout my writing is: Nature and human dignity require each other.