Why Give a DAMn? – Spiritual Growth

Posted In: Education

Spiritual Growth

Norwottuck Rail Trail Lodge and Pond Leveler. Photo by Ben Goldfarb, Author of “Eager“.

Our recent blogs have cited multiple reasons to “Give a DAMn” about coexisting with beavers including biodiversitywater storagestream restorationsalmon recovery, and because cost-effective solutions exist when beaver activity poses problems for people. All these reasons are intellectually and/or emotionally compelling, and anyone of them is reason enough to jump on the beaver bandwagon. However, there is another strong reason to promote beaver co-existence, fostering our spiritual growth.


You are probably aware that many religions preach and teach support for environmental stewardship. For example, I was raised a progressive Catholic (I know that seems like an oxymoron), and we were taught that it is a moral imperative to take care of God’s creation. Native Americans also believe that Mother Earth nurtures and sustains us and deserves our reverence and respect. To learn more I highly recommend the book, “Black Elk Speaks” which speaks powerfully of this tradition. Even many agnostics and secular people are strong environmentalists. For example, the Gaia Hypothesis, is a modern philosophy postulated by a NASA scientist, that claims the earth is a living organism and we need to live in harmony with it.

But one still might say, “So what? What do beavers have to do with me and my spiritual growth?” Well, regardless of our religious beliefs or lack thereof, we all possess core beliefs that guide our daily actions. I believe my actions are moral and ethical if they are constructive, nurturing, and sustainable. It follows that immoral and unethical actions are destructive, harmful or exploitive. Good versus evil. Love versus hate. Harmony versus chaos. Connection versus isolation. Helpful versus harmful. You get the idea.

Sadly, all too often our materialistic western society exploits the environment, embracing unsustainable practices for short term gain. There is often little to no recognition of the interconnectedness of all life on this planet. To varying degrees we all support and participate in this exploitive culture. This has led to unintended consequences such as climate change, species extinctions, drug addiction, gun violence, political strife, and resource wars to name but a few. These are all symptoms of a society in desperate need of a spiritual awakening.

Beavers not only provide us logical and heart-felt opportunities to improve our environment, they also provide us the spiritual opportunity to demonstrate to a materialistic and exploitive society that coexistence is a better way to live. Beavers are the ultimate symbol of living in harmony with creation to benefit us all. By embracing and coexisting with them, we are embracing the higher, more noble part of our humanity.

There are many paths to truth and spiritual growth. For me, advocating for beavers is part of my spiritual journey. I believe this is true for many of you also. Beavers can mentor us how to live on this earth sustainably, correctly, mindfully. The more we can do this, the more we can shift our culture away from its exploitive tendencies, and towards sustainable and ethically defensible actions.

“Together we can make a difference”

Like a candle in the dark,

when joined by others,

the darkness recedes

and a Path

of individual and collective spiritual growth

is revealed to us all.

Coincidentally, minutes after writing the above blog I came across an article on this same subject by a spiritual teacher I greatly admire, Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. I highly recommend you read his, “We Need a Revolution: It Starts with Falling in Love with the Earth”, as he says it so much better than me.

If you have a question, comment or would like to share your own story please Contact Us or go to our Beaver Institute FB page.

Respectfully submitted,

Mike Callahan, President

Posted 3-15-18