Wednesday, April 22, 2020
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Happy 50th Anniversary of Earth Day!
It is astonishing to me that on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Earth herself is enjoying her best health in a long time even as we humans find ourselves thrown
upside-down in a global health crisis. The significance of this turn is worth a short reflection.
Our global “health” crisis is more than that – it is an existential crisis. It is laying bare all of our systems’ weaknesses. Health care and wealth divides are a good place to start. Rich America is seeing a stark and horrifying result, due to its unjust, short-sighted systems – such as health care linked to employment, or wealth, so that those on the low end of the socio-economic scale can’t access health care now, in this desperate time of need. But, though stark in America, Oxfam says that this pattern repeats worldwide. India is a frightening example, and reports say that Africa is headed for desperate times as Coronavirus is set to hit hard.
Race, racism, wealth, power, corporations and government, leadership, pollution, climate change, health, health care, religion and beliefs, science, technology, biotech, ethics, morals, immigration policies, social support, job security, food security, food production, ... very few threads in our society's fabric have remained un-tugged; and how closely knit all these threads are has been revealed by this pandemic.
To take a gigantic step back, "we" caused this. "We" is humanity, with our ideas and desires, and our methods and processes for fulfilling those desires. "We" invented social systems, from dictatorships to democracies; legal systems that allow us to own "free" things like air, water and land; corporations that hold more power and wealth privately than governments wield for the public good. We found oil, used oil to produce food, cut down forests to feed animals for slaughter, and ballooned our global population through this relatively easily produced food in a single century.
What to do? Greta Thunberg affirmed the power of one. Each of us can make a difference. Greta's motivation came from seeing so clearly, so alarmingly, what we are doing to our planet - a rock floating around this vast galaxy that happens to enjoy a delicate and accidental combination of conditions, including stable temperature and chemical interactions that constitute our biosphere, which allows for life to exist. We don't own any of that. But we are responsible for maintaining it well enough that we can keep living here. Until Elon Musk sorts out Mars for us, this is all we've got.
So what can you do?
- Educate yourself. Read the label, check sources, ask questions. The status quo might not be the best way.
- Vote. Every time you can.
- Consume less. Less food, more local food. Less stuff, overall.
- Love more. Give hugs (social distancing notwithstanding). Smile. Even if it's their fault, there's always a backstory; show compassion.
- Breathe. Deeply. Notice yourself doing it, even just one breath a day. It connects you instantly to your vehicle - the body - that needs the Earth to survive. It might be the motivation you need to make the world a better place.
Happy Earth Day.