&#91FOUNTAIN&#93The natural life

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[FOUNTAIN]The natural life

A reader in Daegu sent me a long message after reading my book. He maintained that wild plants are not wild plants if they are transplanted in a garden. Wild plants, as their name implies, are genuine only when they are in nature, he said. He thanked me for rehabilitating or popularizing wild plants, but worried that a boom in wild plants might cause trouble for them.
Another reader, after reading the part that I wrote about the effects of wild plants for human health, commented that I had revealed the precious secret of nature.
I believe these comments to be advice from pure-hearted readers who respect life.
As the readers pointed out, our society gets paranoid about something new. If the news is about health, in particular, readers go through fire and water. For example, when news breaks that a particular thing is good for our health, we swarm to it and are satisfied only after finishing it. Thus, those who love wild plants must be greatly concerned about them, for my book has become a best-seller.
I was struck dumb when I found that the first person who asked to interview me upon publication of my book was a magazine reporter who wanted to write an article titled, “Mr. Hwang’s How to Keep Healthy with Wild Plants.” I refused to be interviewed because I thought such thinking as “Oh, I got healthy after I ate this wild plant” would distort our notion of health and destroy nature.
The reporter, however, insisted on interviewing me, and I finally agreed to it. But I said eating a couple of kinds of wild plants will not bring good health. Instead, I stressed that changing your lifestyle and environment are more important in achieving good health.
If you want to use wild plants to achieve good health, you should love wild plants and try to become one with them. That is to say, you need to have an “awakening for life.” But how can such awakening occur when you receive, at your doorstep, “wild plant juice,” which merchants churn out after they recklessly pick the plants of nature? Indeed, a serious problem for wild plants will occur if there were a wild plant boom.
When I have a chance to introduce myself, I don’t say that I am a “researcher of wild plants,” but an “ecological activist.” In an ecological society, wild plants can coexist with humans. What I really wanted to say in my book is that wildlife is as important as human life. Each life is connected to the other to make one large natural life.
If people indulge in only wild plants, thus destroying the plants’ habitats, I will regret the publication of my book.
I want readers to see wild plants in the “perspectives of life.” This way, they will see the way humans and wild plants can live together healthily.

by Hwang Dae-gwon

The writer is the author of “Wild Plants Letter.” The book is composed of essays on wild plants, ecology and life, and was written during the author’s 13-year jail stay as a political prisoner.
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