I have a friend who has devoted most of his adult life to resisting the madness of war through actions of justice and peace. He . . . lives in poverty so as to stay below the taxation level. . . . The money he "should" have given the government over the years he has donated to peace-and-justice projects. Does he have any results to show for his efforts? Has he been effective? Hardly — at least, not by the normal calculus. His years of commitment to peacemaking have been years of steady increase in wars and rumors of wars. So how does he stay healthy and sane? How does he maintain a commitment to this sort of active life? "I have never asked myself if I was being effective," he says, "but only if I was being faithful." He judges his action not by the results it gets, but by its fidelity to his own calling and identity.
Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call. To the deer it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a forecast of midnight scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet. Yet behind these obvious and immediate hopes and fears there lies a deeper meaning, known only to the mountain itself. Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf.