“The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable all come from nature.
Yet, these are exceptional times in which nature is sending us a message:
To care for ourselves we must care for nature.
It’s time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices.
It’s time to build back better for People and Planet.
This World Environment Day, it’s Time for Nature.”
Today is World Environment Day.
It feels irreverent to speak about the environment when the world is on fire right now, spiritually, allegorically, and most definitely physically, fulminating against a backdrop of a coronavirus pandemic, rising unemployment, police brutality, and centuries of institutionalized racism.
People are on edge. Issues of race and inequality, always a backdrop for the lives of African Americans, have spilled over into the mainstream like a too-full pot of boiling water. Injustice can’t be contained forever so what better time for this conflagration than in the middle of a pandemic?
It’s not a coincidence that the worst of the worst is occurring all at once. For years, people of color have remained at the lower socioeconomic rung of society, shut out by systemic racism that leaves practices in place meant to keep people down along many spectrums — housing, education, health, and even plain old opportunity. The question isn’t why the anger is erupting now, but how it has been contained this long.
I realize the environment is often a care associated with white privilege. I also realize why. When you have been harassed by the police as a way of life, when you are struggling to take care of your family, when you have been routinely told that your life doesn’t matter as much as your contemporaries with whiter skin than yours, you may not have much bandwidth left to think about the bugs and bunnies, clean air or clean water. And that’s okay, because in order to live an authentic life, we all need to follow what has heart and meaning, for us. But what if changing our relationship with the natural world, our relationship with all of its inhabitants could change humanity as well?
Enter Balance. You can’t walk without out it, can’t run without it, can’t ride a bike without it, can’t stand on your head without it, and can’t live your life without out. Actually, you can live your life, but the lack of balance will eventually catch up with you — through misfortune, death, disease, whatever — and the world as it is presents a perfect example of this.
“This pandemic was predicted and people have not heeded the lessons we should have because we have disrespected the natural world, disrespected the animals who live there, taken away so much habitat, crowded animals together, viruses spilling over from one animal species to another, some animals pushed into conflict with humans and human beings hunting them, eating them, trafficking them, sending them from one country to another along with their viruses and selling them on these wildlife markets as food or pets and because the animals are stressed, because there’s blood in everything and everywhere, it’s the perfect environment for a virus to spill over from an animal to a human, and people have been predicting this.”DR. Jane Goodall appearing on Jimmy Fallon on Earth Day
We could easily substitute the word human for animal in Dr. Goodall’s words and the meaning would be the same. For hundreds of years, white civilization trafficked in black civilization, disrespecting them, crowding them together, treating them the way we treat animals today. Sadly, and while it’s not universal, it is prevalent, much of this spillover behavior toward Black America continues in the form of generationally engendered racism, and, in particular, police brutality.
No such terrible deeds are without repercussions which is how we have arrived where we are today, unwilling to deal with the sins of past, unable to cobble together a path forward. Certainly we can’t claim to have respect for the earth if we don’t even know how to have respect for each other.
I note some things that have become evident in the U.S. over these last few years:
- reasonable public debate is a tired old shoe that no one wants to wear;
- people pretend they are listening to each other, but really they are just waiting for their turn to talk;
- people cling to the trappings of the 3rd dimension like a drowning man clings to flotsam even while many Americans declare themselves to be religious or spiritual and not bound by such trappings;
- despite all evidence to the contrary, there are some people who will never change their opinion on an issue either because of pride, fear, or a stubborn belief in their own superiority.
I think it’s this last one that does us in more than the others. If we are unwilling to change our minds, how will we ever evolve as a species? Without compassion, without empathy, and without true listening skills, nothing will ever change and we will be destined to revolve through these cycles of ill will, discontent and inequality, year after year, for generations to come.
Sadly, the only way to get through to most inhabitants of a 3-D world is through revolution which means more horror, more bloodshed, more tears, and more death. I think we can do better in welcoming a new dawn to this battered world.
Balance for the planet and all its inhabitants, starts with good environmental stewardship. If you love the mother, you wouldn’t disrespect one of her creations, right?
Everyday is a new beginning, a chance to start again. Isn’t it time to heal the sins of the past? Isn’t it time we give all people, regardless of race or religion, their due?
Revolution is passé. Evolution is where it’s at. Let’s start now.
I’ll leave you with this:
by Ross Gay
Is that Eric Garner worked
for some time for the Parks and Rec.
Horticultural Department, which means,
perhaps, that with his very large hands,
perhaps, in all likelihood,
he put gently into the earth
some plants which, most likely,
some of them, in all likelihood,
continue to grow, continue
to do what such plants do, like house
and feed small and necessary creatures,
like being pleasant to touch and smell,
like converting sunlight
into food, like making it easier
for us to breathe.
pam lazos 6.5.20