Our Wild Calling Book Summary - Our Wild Calling Book explained in key points
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Our Wild Calling summary

Richard Louv

How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives—and Save Theirs

4.5 (44 ratings)
19 mins
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    Our Wild Calling
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    Appreciating the beauty of wild animals encourages us to protect them

    A brief encounter with a wild animal might change your life forever. The author’s life-changing moment happened when he was on Kodiak Island, Alaska. One night, he was strolling by a lakeside when he noticed a pair of bright eyes staring at him from the darkness. He was face to face with a huge black fox that was as large as a coyote. 

    He and the fox silently considered each other, neither wanting anything from the other, except the electrifying experience of being in each other’s presence. Eventually, the author even spoke to the fox, and asked if it wanted to accompany him to the cabin where he was headed. Incredibly, the fox followed. Just before they got to the cabin, the fox melted away into the long grass.

    This is the key message: Appreciating the beauty of wild animals encourages us to protect them. 

    The author can’t remember many of the people he met that summer on the island, but he’s always remembered his brief moment with the black fox. Over the years, he’s had other meaningful encounters with animals, too. 

    One year at his summer house, he observed a colony of ground squirrels who lived in his garden. He came to appreciate the rhythms of their life; the way their infants played together, how hard the squirrels worked to survive each day. Eventually, he saw these humble ground squirrels as beautiful. 

    Appreciating the beauty of other species can help transform our relationship with the whole of the natural world. 

    How? Well, Norwegian ecophilosopher Arne Naess differentiates between acting morally and acting beautifully. When we act out of a sense of moral obligation, we do so through gritted teeth. We’re going against what we want to do, but we do it because it’s the right thing to do. On the other hand, when we act in a beautiful way, we do something moral because we want to; the moral action is in harmony with our true inclinations. 

    We can appreciate the beauty of other animals by identifying and empathizing with them. This feeling of empathy must replace any sense we have of superiority to animals, and certainly any sense of alienation from them. Only when we identify with other species can we feel a genuine desire to protect them from harm. When this happens, protecting them and the natural world becomes a beautiful act that we want to carry out. In other words, we must act because we care, not just from moral obligation. 

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    What is Our Wild Calling about?

    Our Wild Calling (2020) examines how humans and other animals can enjoy mutually beneficial relationships. It explores stories and philosophy from the ecological movement, and outlines how we can move toward a more hopeful future for all Earthlings. 

    Who should read Our Wild Calling?

    • Nature lovers looking for inspiration
    • Office dwellers seeking ways to reconnect with nature
    • Anyone looking for direct ways to respond to global climate change

    About the Author

    Richard Louv is an author and journalist, whose interests center around connecting families and communities to nature. He is also the cofounder of the nonprofit organization Children & Nature Network. Louv’s work has appeared in The New York Times, as well as other publications, and in 2008 he was awarded the Audubon Medal. 

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