Writing the Environment

This week Rollo Romig’s Writing the Environment class is reading Alice Walker’s “Everything is a Human Being,” delivered in 1983 as a keynote address at the University of California, Davis, and meant to celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. Walker speaks with an urgency worthy of her subject—humanity, King, our shared planet and its/our predicament, love—asking us to imagine ourselves into the lives of others, asking what it might feel like to be treated “like dirt.” She approaches the end this way, dazzled by another creature, by life:

As I finish writing this, I notice a large spider sleeping underneath my desk. It does not look like me. It is a different size. But that it loves life, I have no doubt. It is something to think about as I study its many strange but oddly beautiful dozen or so legs, its glowing coral-and-amber coloring, its thick web, whose intricate pattern I would never be able to duplicate. Imagine building your house from your own spit!

Yes, imagine that.


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