Janelle Hesselink September 21, 2009 Sue Murphy English 201 11am M, W, F The article, ?A Walk in the Woods Right or Privilege?? comes from the March/April 2009 edition of the Orion magazine, and is written by Richard Louv. The audience that the author is writing to is the average American citizen. In other words, anyone who takes nature for granted and is not fully aware of how valuable it is. The author emphasizes the right of individuals, especially kids, to be able to go outside and enjoy nature?s true beauty. One of the controversies that Mr. Louv covers is how humans are in nature but not of it (Louv 70). But as he goes on to explain in his writings, being a part of nature, along with being involved in it actually can increase a child?s health (Louv 70, 71). Louv?s thesis is, ?as a society, we need to give nature back to our kids? (Louv 71). When the author asked a roomful of school children what they thought about nature, many of them said that they preferred video games and other indoor activities. Out of that class, only one student, a girl, enjoyed having regular time outside. This is one example of how children today are missing out on the importance of nature, because of how they are being raised. Sadly, even society is ruining nature for the few who do enjoy it. The same little girl the author mentioned told her class how her favorite spot in the woods had been cut down (Louv 68). It was by talking to the class that the author began to realize how secluded most children are from nature in today?s society. Based off of this finding, Mr. Louv posed a question in his writing asking whether or not children have a right to nature (Louv 68). One person responded by asking if the world needed any more rights. With the ?right? to a parking spot or television, this person felt that one more right would only become another burden for society (Louv 70). The author responded by saying that nature is a fundamental part to our humanity and to our being (Louv 70). Not only is being outside our right, but it increases mental capacity and has positive physical effect on us as well (Louv 70, 71). To understand another reason why the outdoors is fundamental to us, Mr. Louv talked about the Founding Fathers. When they created the ideals of the nation, they believed that the right to land and nature was an assumed right (Louv 71). That something as beautiful and as valuable as the land around us would not go underappreciated by those living on it. Unfortunately, that is the very thing that is happening today. Louv?s essay is persuasive because he explains why children need fresh air, he logically goes through all of his arguments, and he even works through the counter-arguments. To begin with, the author explains why it is so important that children get a fairly regular dose of fresh air. Scientists, he explains, have found that being outside diminishes a child?s stress level, cognitive functions go up, and attention-deficit hyperactivity is positively affected (if he or she has it) (Louv 70). Running around outside will also help decrease the obesity rate of children, and improve overall health in general because of the regular exercise. And besides, every child deserves the right to have regular exposure to nature in its natural form. Playtime at a perfectly manicured sports field is one thing, but wandering through the woods while seeing and hearing the wildlife, is an experience many children are missing out on. Next the author does a good job of logically going through his arguments and expanding upon his points with data. He uses a quotation from Howard Frumkin, director of the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an example. ?In the same way that protecting water and protecting air are strategies for promoting public health, protecting natural landscapes can be seen as a powerful form of preventive medicines? (Louv 70). This quotation helps explain why children deserve the right to ?walk in the woods? (Louv 68). Mr. Louv, the author, continues to strengthen his arguments by trying to include the entire truth. He was not vain enough to say that his argument was fool proof. He did not try to say that he was the only expert on nature and that his essay explained every single detail of why experiencing nature is so important. He stated, through Frumpkin, that more research is needed (Louv 70). However, he also explained that by ?introducing children to nature; studies pointing to health and cognition benefits are immediate and concrete? (Louv 71). Another way Mr. Louv strengthened his arguments was by refuting the counter-arguments given to him. One such argument stated that, for many people, nature is something that needs to be moved out of the way so paradise can be created (Louv 70). To combat this idea Mr. Louv used a quotation from writer Thomas Berry that says; ?a degraded habitat will produce degraded humans? (Louv 71). Berry also wrote that for the viewpoint of wanting nature to go away, people need to think about the context of the planet as a whole, with both its human and ?other-than-human? components (Louv 71). Lastly, in the other counter-argument people wonder if a child?s right to experience nature should come before (or rank with) other rights. The example given was that children around the world are being abused. So the point was that, to an abused child, the right to safety would come before the right to experience nature (Louv 70). Ironically it is the story at the beginning of the essay, of one little girl, that explains why the right to nature and the right to safety are not necessarily two separate things. She explained to the author and to her classmates that her spot in the woods was her safe and happy place. ?I just felt free; it was like my place, and I could do what I wanted, with nobody to stop me? (Louv 68). And that freedom a person can feel is just one reason why ?the right to nature? is an important right. I really liked how Mr. Louv emphasized the health benefits for children (and for everyone else) if they went outside on a regular basis. I almost laughed when I read that scientists ?discovered? that playing outside had a positive effect on hyper-active children. It is funny because any (thinking) parent should be able to realize that if a kid has a lot of energy, he or she needs a place to burn it off. And a back (or other part) of a yard is usually an excellent place for that. Researchers at the school of Medicine at Indian University, Indiana-Purdue University, and the University of Washington even reported that greener neighborhoods help with a slower increase in a child?s body mass, regardless of the density of the population (Louv 70). As a kid I was often kicked outside to go and play, so along with the health benefits, I can understand the cognitive ones as well (Louv 70, 71). For example, in one summer break you can only jump on the giant trampoline for so long without getting bored. So what my brother, sisters, and I would do, we would grab a bouncy ball, use our imaginations, and come up with a new game. It was as simple as that. One part of the essay that I did not agree with was the part about the Civil Rights movement (Louv 70). I do believe that we need to take better care of Mother Nature. I do not believe that anyone in their right mind would murder another person just to protect a couple of trees from being cut down. The Civil Rights movement was based upon moral issues while this ?nature movement? is based upon knowledge. Natural resources run out, and oddly enough, the Earth is one of these resources. Mr. Louv said that ?with every right (to our resources) comes responsibility.? He also went on to say that ?if we fail to serve as careful stewards, we will destroy the reason for our right, and the right itself? (Louv 71). So while I do not think that the Civil Rights movement was a good comparison for this article, I do believe that we all need to be more careful of nature and its beauty around us. Now more than ever, Mr. Louv convinced me that it is important for everyone, especially children, to play outside for regular intervals. His essay explained why children need the fresh air, in a logical manner, and he addressed the counter-arguments as well. He included multiple studies that showed how it is beneficial for children both physically and mentally (Louv 70, 71) to play outside. This in of itself makes it every child?s right to be able to enjoy the many wonders and excitements of Mother Nature. While the author may confuse this ?nature movement? with the Civil Rights movement (Louv 70), he still does a good job of explaining why it is important that we take care of our planet. The wilderness can be a safe and happy place for children, but for this to occur we must first let them outside to explore their surroundings. It is then that the real adventure can begin. Works Cited Louv, Richard. ?A Walk in the Woods Right or Privilege.? Orion. March/April 2009: 68, 70, 71).
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