Gloria Steinem, the writer and leader in the feminist movement, once learned an important political lesson as a student on a geology field trip.
“I took geology because I thought it was the least scientific of the sciences,” she told an audience at Smith College.
“On a field trip, while everyone else was off looking at the meandering Connecticut River, I was paying no attention whatsoever. Instead, I had a found a giant, GIANT turtle that had climbed out of the river, crawled up a dirt road, and was in the mud on the embankment of another road, seemingly about to crawl up on it and get squashed by a car.
“So, being a good codependent with the world, I tugged and pushed and pulled until I managed to carry this huge, heavy, angry snapping turtle off the embankment and down the road.
“I was just putting it back into the river when my geology professor arrived and said, ‘You know, that turtle probably spent a month crawling up that dirt road to lay its eggs in the mud by the side of the road, and you just put it back in the river.’
“Well, I felt terrible. But in later years, I realized that this was the most important political lesson I learned, one that cautioned me about the authoritarian impulse of both left and right.
“Always ask the turtle.”