The world outside the self

A 16 October 2010 note from Barry Lopez contained these words of encouragement and grace:

I could feel the grief in your letter over the loss of the Comose Fig. I am sorry it’s gone, and that if the university was going to force the issue the way they have, that they didn’t make room for an appropriate ceremony, so that the many who loved the tree could speak their words of farewell.

I suppose that some would consider feelings of grief a sign of sentimentality, but they are really evidence for the survival of an ethical imagination, to use Frank Stewart’s term for it. They are evidence for the survival of compassion and the world outside the self at a time when these emotions and perspectives are a great inconvenience for bureaucrats and business people driven by dreams of growth and efficiency.

When I received Barry’s note, the notion of having a ceremony stayed with me, and some months later I proposed to my friends that we have one. It turned out that we were all free on Martin Luther King Day, and so we decided to honor a great tree on the day honoring a great man and his dream of peace.

—Pat Matsueda


3 thoughts on “The world outside the self

  1. I wonder if it would be appropriate to address the issue of disappearing street trees here. We live on Wilder Avenue, near Punahou School. During the past year we have seen the systematic destruction of many lovely Royal Poincianas that lined this street, as far as the intersection with Ke`eaumoku. They have been replaced with spindly Tabebuia trees with small, relatively unattractive white flowers…nothing to compare with the beauty of the trees that were destroyed.

    • Yes, I’m aware of the destruction of such trees too. I’ve been trying to think of what to do about it. Research is needed to find out (1) who is cutting the trees, (2) why they are cutting them, and (3) what political connections, if any, exist. I am hoping that our legislative efforts will come to fruition and that we may get some media coverage and public support. If so, we can next try to bring attention to the problem of the street trees.

    • Everyone, check out the Australian blog linked to in the right-hand column of the home page. This is how the group defines itself: “Community Tree Watch Group – working to protect healthy public trees from inappropriate removal.”

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