I want my politicians to think like a mountain. I'm not joking. Aldo Leopold, the noted American ecologist who died fighting a bushfire in 1948, wrote an essay called Thinking Like a Mountain. He remembered back to his youth, when everyone killed wolves. So did he.
He felt, like everyone did, that immediate safety was the most important thing. And fewer wolves meant more deer. But after Leopold saw the fierce green fire die in the eyes of a wolf, he sensed that the mountain did not agree with such a view.
Over the next generation, deer ran wild and denuded the ranges. The mountains took years to recover. Leopold learned that "just as a deer lives in mortal fear of its wolves, so does a mountain live in fear of its deer".
The short-term answer was worse than the original problem.
"We all strive for safety, prosperity, comfort, long life and dullness," Leopold wrote. "The deer strives with its supple legs, the cowman with trap and poison, the statesman with pen, the most of us with machines, votes and dollars - but it all comes down to the same thing: peace in our time. A measure of success in this is all well enough - but too much safety seems to yield only danger in the long run. Perhaps this is behind Thoreau's dictum: in wildness is the salvation of the world."
And to me, in thinking long-term, wildness is the salvation of our society.