Together, we can literally make all the difference in the world.
While we’re busy trying to decide who or what to blame for global warming, whether or not the BP oil spill actually caused damage, and trying our best to figure out if we can make dirty oil into clean energy, our Earth’s load is just getting heavier. The fact of the matter is that our planet is under the weather. She’s tired and burdened from the weight of us humans and our big, noisy, dirty habits. We’ve been discussing and arguing and ignoring and now our living Earth is simply not going to wait any longer. The disease doesn’t go away just because you ignore the symptoms.
Have you ever eaten dinner in a restaurant where people smoke cigarettes? Many people remember the old diners with ashtrays on the tables, burn marks on the seats and yellow ceilings overhead. Most of us wouldn’t stand for that today – eating dinner with stale smoke lingering over our Cesar salad and settling in our wine glass, second-hand fumes in our lungs and stinking up our hair. After all, we know that smoke rises, hits the ceiling and chemical residues have to end up somewhere.
Our atmosphere is the planet’s ceiling, and it’s full of the second-hand industrial smoke that we’ve been exhaling for the last couple hundred years from sea to shining sea and our ceiling is a smoke-stained mess.
Our creeks, rivers, streams and oceans are flowing with a myriad of chemical cocktails, plastic particles and runoff and fallout and trash. The nature of water is to flow, to always seek lower ground – pour it on the ground and it seeps through the layers until it reaches an aquifer and then it serpents its way back out into our above-ground waterways. Then the sunshine sucks it up and floats it around in the clouds until it rains back down on us. This is the nature of water.
The Earth is designed to filter organic materials during this process – but she has no idea what to do with the chemicals we have developed and most of them stay in the water supply and end up in our own bodies. And no, chlorine and fluoride do not “cancel out” prescription drugs, pesticides, jet fuel or oil spill contamination.
Imagine your used bathwater after your dirt and soap and shampoo have been added. Would you drink that? Now imagine if all of your neighbors had bathed in it before it was your turn, would you even want to sit in that polluted soup?
Now picture our creeks and streams with factory waste water being dumped into them from every town across the country. The oil and antifreeze and fuel running off from our roadways and spilling into drainage pipes that empty into our swimming holes and favorite fishing spots – the same waterways that supply tap water. The same tap water that also “recycles” toilet water full of prescription drug-laced waste. The gas leaks and oil spills and sludge that we never really think about is there, every day, everywhere around the world and it’s all flowing downstream – into our fishes and our well water and our selves. We all drink from the same pond. Pure and simple.
Our planet is no different than our house. If we smoke inside, the ceiling gets stained. If we let our garbage pile up, we’d soon have a filthy, disease-ridden mess. And if we refused to do maintenance on our house, the poor old thing just wouldn’t be able to hold up. There would be wear and tear – the roof, the flooring, the walls, the kitchen appliances, the plumbing and everything else that held the home together would carry a burden and would eventually need repair – right down to the concrete on the driveway and the filth in the septic tank.
Why then do we find it so hard to realize that our Earth carries a burden with more than 7 billion humans and our assembly-line ways? We perform preventative maintenance on our homes so that they will last. We repaint, replace and repair so that the home will stand the test of time. We are careful with our home, we at least wipe our feet before entering and most often we even take our shoes off at the door.
We value our home because it is our safe place – it gives us shelter and warmth – it holds our refrigerator full of sustenance and our shelves full of memories. Our home is a gathering place for our loved ones. We, as a collective body however, seem to give our ultimate home, our Earth, less attention, maintenance and upkeep than we do our material homes.
The only difference between our house and our home planet is that if we outgrow the house, we can always add on or simply move. We cannot build an addition onto our Earth – nor can we move out – we cannot expand her or convince her to support more than she is capable of supporting. The only thing we can do is to appreciate and tend. We need to take our shoes off before we enter and tread lightly on her floors. We need to wash her ceilings, repair her broken parts and empty the septic tank. This is the least we can do for our home – the place of food and shelter and love that we all live in together.
This is what Earth Day is about – because the Earth won’t wait. She needs our attention and care now. We can all learn to live smaller and lighter, we can decrease her burden and perform preventative maintenance to ensure she holds up – for ourselves and the all the wild things that belong here too.
Individually we cannot stop all of the Earth’s hardships today, nor can we singularly force corporations to think responsibly in reference to our shared resources. However, together we can literally make all the difference in the world – use our dollars to support environmentally sound businesses and our forks to support healthy food that was grown sustainably. We can use our votes to place Earth-minded people in positions of authority, we can use our voices to teach others and our actions to create change.
At the very least we can recycle, reduce what we use and reuse what we can. We can purchase products with less packaging waste, we can grow some of our own food and we can familiarize ourselves with the burdens of our planet and continue to try to decrease them. We can plant a tree – or native plants and bushes. We can drive slower at night to reduce the springtime highway slaughter of our wildlife, we can stop using pesticides, buy products without harmful chemicals, drive less and walk more.
We can spend time with our natural world and connect with the spiritual sustenance that she offers. We can spend brain time thinking about all that our world provides and make a command decision to appreciate and nurture – instead of just taking, we can give back. We can learn to maintain and care for our living planet just like we do our family homes. After all, preventative maintenance is always easier than repairs.
This Earth Day, do a little more for our planet. Vow to think of our Earth everyday in all your actions. She is the one thing we all have in common and she’s the only place where the good stuff in life comes from. Our Earth is our Mother – she breathes life into our bodies everyday and she asks little in return. Don’t use more than you need – give back what you can – leave enough to share – tread softly and appreciate your blessings. Do your part – just like we teach our children about honoring and respecting their homes.
Our Earth really only has one thing she asks of us… let her sustain. The ancient Wiccan Reed states “If it harms none, do what you will”. This is a terrific phrase to live by – both toward each other and our life-giving planet.
To find Earth Day events near you and other suggestions to live lighter on our planet, visit www.earthday.org.