What is the dominant mode of experience at the beginning of the 21st century? How do people see things and how do they expect to see things? The answer is simple. In every field, from business to politics to marketing to education, the dominant mode has become entertainment. Today everyone expects to be entertained, and we expect to be entertained all the time. Business meetings must be snappy with bulleted lists and animated graphics, so executives aren’t bored. Malls and stores must come up with gimmicks to amuse as well as sell us. Politicians must have pleasing TV personalities and tell us only what they think we want to hear. Schools must be careful not to bore young minds that have become accustomed to the speed and complexity of television. Everyone must be amused or they will switch: switch brands, switch channels switch parties, switch loyalties. This is the underlying intellectual reality of Western society today.
Where will this mania for entertainment end? What will we do when we get tired of passive diversions? We already know the answer – we go into participatory activities: theme parks, amusement rides, roller coasters, video games. Structured fun, planned thrills. But sooner or later the artifice of “planned thrills wears thin
This artifice will drive us to seek authenticity. Authenticity will be the buzzword of the twenty-first century. And what is authentic? Anything that is not devised and structured solely to make a profit. Anything that exists for its own sake, that assumes its own shape. But very little in the modern world is allowed to assume its own shape. The modern world is the equivalent of a formal, manicured garden, where everything is planted and arranged for effect, where nothing is untouched and nothing is authentic.
Where then will people turn for the rare and desirable experience of authenticity? We will turn to nature. The natural world is unarguably authentic. It is a world that existed before Wall Street, the Internet, and television, and all the other shapers of the present day. Nature existed before we did. The natural world evolved, underwent mass extinctions, and evolved again without human intrusion, molding, and selling. The natural world is real. It’s authentic.
In response to this search for authenticity, I invite you to dicscover Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. Our goal is to offer a greatly enlarged experience of the living world – and to assure that in the new century, the Preserve continues to flourish as a haven of beauty, knowledge, inspiration, and rejuvenation.
Those of you who are members already have experienced the richness offered by the Preserve and our programs. We thank you for your continued support and encourage you to become even more involved in our educational programs and volunteer opportunities. For those of you who are new to the Preserve, we hope that future visits and participation in our educational offerings will serve to reinforce a deep sense of fundamental values and reconnect you with the essential unity of nature and humanity.