“How Much Are You Willing To Give?”

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The end of another year and the start of the next is once again upon us. With December bringing the holiday and gift-giving season along with our New Year’s celebration it is as good a time as any to reflect on the year that is gone and plan for the year ahead of us.

Along with the “good cheer” of the season comes an incredible amount of stress. Most giving during this time of year comes in the form of “presents” and of course this is what is socially accepted, expected, and “good for the economy”.

Powerful advertising campaigns in cooperation with television, movies and the general media have created nearly unlimited wants and artificial needs that are so gripping, our economy would collapse without it. Religious connotations aside, it is practically un-American not to be giving store-bought gifts at this time of year.

So this brings me to my real point here: What do you believe in? How much do you love? And how much are you willing to give?

The picture below is the cover of a book that was published this past year. The book is by a woman who was willing to give her life to save a tree! The following is the summary of her story as given through editorial reviews and the description on the book cover itself (with editing):

The Legacy of Luna

A young woman named Julia Butterfly Hill climbed a 200-foot redwood onDecember 10, 1997 for what she thought would be a two to three-week-long “tree-sit.” She didn’t come down for 738 days! (December 18, 1999).

The tree, dubbed Luna, grows in the coastal hills of Northern California, on land owned by the Maxxam Corporation. In 1985 Maxxam acquired the previous landlord, Pacific Lumber, then proceeded to “liquidate its assets” to pay off the debt–in other words, clear-cut the old-growth redwood forest. Environmentalists charged the company with harvesting timber at a nonsustainable level. Earth First! in particular devised tree sit-ins to protest the logging. When Hill arrived on the scene after traveling cross-country on a whim, loggers were preparing to clear-cut the hillside where Luna had been growing for 1,000 years. The Legacy of Luna, part diary, part treatise, and part New Age spiritual journey, is the story of Julia Butterfly Hill’s two-year arboreal odyssey.

The action was intended to stop Pacific Lumber, now a division of the Maxxam Corporation, from the environmentally destructive process of clear-cutting the ancient redwood and the trees around it. The area immediately next to Luna had already been stripped and, because, as many believed, nothing was left to hold the soil to the mountain, a huge part of the hill had slid into the town ofStafford, wiping out many homes.

Over the course of what turned into an historic civil action, Hill, the daughter of an itinerant preacher, writes of her chance meeting with California logging protesters, the blur of events leading to her ascent of the redwood, and the daily privations of living in the tallest treehouse on earth. She weathers everything from El Niño rainstorms to shock-jock media storms. More frightening are her interactions with the loggers below, who escalate the game of chicken by cutting dangerously close to Luna (eventually succeeding at killing another activist with such tactics). “‘You’d better get ready for a bad hair day!'” one logger shouts up, grimly anticipating the illegal helicopter hazing she would soon get. She also endured a ten-day siege by company security guards, and the tremendous sorrow brought about by an old-growth forest’s destruction. She lived on a tiny platform eighteen stories off the ground.

From the Publisher:

It is critical to point out that Legacy of Luna is printed on paper made from 30% post-consumer recycled fibers and 70% Forestry Stewardship Council-certified paper using soy based ink. There is no more responsible paper available. It’s quite insane to suggest that Julia would devote her life to saving trees only to have them sacrificed for her book. Instead, this book is a model of the sustainability available to all of us. Furthermore, it is instructive to know that she is not receiving a penny from the profits of this book — they are all going to the Circle of Life Foundation whose work is to promote sustainability, restoration and preservation of life.  

You don’t live in a world all your own. Your brothers are here, too.”


Albert Schweitzer

Friends, don’t you see? The trees are your brothers too!


Originally published December, 2000




Shifu Ahles
Shifu Raymond Ahles, the owner and Chief Instructor of the Blue Dragon School, is a certified instructor of Ba Gua Zhang Kung Fu & Chi Kung and a 7th Generation Lineage Disciple in the Ch’iang Shan Pa Kua Chang Association. In addition to his 30 years plus teaching experience in the martial arts, Shifu Ahles also holds a B.S. degree in Exercise Physiology, he’s a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has an extensive background in the healing arts of Oriental Medicine including certifications in Advanced Amma Therapy, Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture. He is a licensed Acupuncturist and Chinese Herbalist in NJ.





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