Earth Day comes to us once again this year, however it comes at a time where we are looking for hope, at a time of uncertainty for the future. It is difficult to discuss Earth Day without looking at the current health issues being dealt with on a global scale.
The challenges we face today, do not come without opportunities to grow on a personal, and community level. As with any hardship, we are now forced to make hard decisions, acknowledge weaknesses, and quickly evolve to face a new world. Our comfort zone has been eroded, which makes now the perfect time to evolve. Here are some actions we can consider.
When the pandemic first started to shelter people in place, a phenomenon occurred here in Phoenix that was heartening. With all of the commercial options removed, dining out, movies, shopping, etc, people began to go outside.
It may be wishful thinking, but it seems like something clicked inside people; they returned to something beautiful and serene, something they knew and had always known, something often overlooked. They returned to the solitude of nature, to something bigger than them, which allowed a perspective that the nightly news, their internet feed, or the daily newspaper did not, and could not.
It allowed a silence in which wanderers could explore their own thoughts, free from outside influence, helping them deal with and adjust to a changing society to which they would soon return.
Nature has always been a reminder for many. Thousand year old redwoods remind us that we are here now, but have not always been. The rock layers in Sedona, millions of years in the making, show us we are here now, but will not always be. How do we use that time? What should we prioritize with the time we have? What is our place on Earth, in our home?
Our lives as we once knew them have come to an abrupt halt. Yet many of us, most of us, are OK. We are finding tat those things we once deemed necessities, are not, they are luxuries. Quite quickly it seems, we are recalling the little things that we take joy in.
Shopping, eating out, and paying to be entertained have been replaced by saving, learning how to cook something new, and taking pleasure in the activities we may have overlooked, like hiking or planting a garden for the first time.
Broken and battered, the society that once placed so much value in specific activities is acclimating to a new reality, in which we can find happiness and satisfaction don't come strictly from consumption.
Many of us, whom are lucky enough, endure the current pandemic from our homes; though a portion of the population does not have that luxury, and must continue their daily activities in service to the rest us. That service, provided by a wide range of what we now deem "essential workers", is a sacrifice that is made in service to the greater good. It is giving; and without giving we have nothing. I find it wholly appropriate to acknowledge those workers first, not out of obligation, but rather out of real admiration.
As we thank others, let's follow their example. Let's be willing to sacrifice our normal routines for the protection of others; while others sacrifice their health to protect us. It is a test after all; are we willing to endure social and financial pain in the short term in hope for a quicker recovery, or will resistance to change drag out those hardships? Giving is not merely financial, it can be giving time, giving patience, and giving hope to others. We need all of these, and they all have value.
Earth Day is a day to remember. To remember that even in better times, our society, as grand as it is, exists within the natural world. To presuppose, even momentarily that we are immune from the effects of the natural world around us, is a dangerous and foolish miscalculation. To build infrastructure and culture in spite of the world we live in rather than in harmony with that world, is counterproductive and benefits us in the short term only. To remember that many still view the planet we live on with reverence; it is after all our home, and the provider of everything we require to live. We can make our commitment to that ideal stronger, with small changes.
If we take the opportunity to change when it faces us directly, there is more to be gained than lost. We have tough times ahead, but how we react to the challenge will ultimately determine how the history books relate this period in time. Let's allow the grandiosity and expanse of the natural world humble us, and remind us where we come from and what we value.
We love you, and we are along side you. Stay safe, take care of those who need it, and let'd get through this together.