Today, we reflect on how we can support the earth in the challenges it faces, as well as the many moments of awe and humility that the Earth provides.
It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a day that since its inception has driven us to more intentionally respect the ground we walk on and the bountiful resources around us. Now more than ever, this annual event serves as a reminder to think beyond oneself towards future generations and to continue to reassess words like impact and tradeoffs.
The earth is resilient but needs our presence and our awareness — lest we cross a point of no return for many of its beloved species. This day has only gained in urgency and importance in time. We must continue to learn, to be present and to recognize that each of our decisions have impacts beyond ourselves.
Essential organizations and initiatives continue to monitor our progress in combating the great crisis of our time, climate change, and provide the necessary toolkits to getting people on the track towards a solution.
Though important curriculum has been developed by organizations like Climate Generation, the Alliance for Climate Education and Our Climate, Our Future, empowering our educators needs to be an even higher priority if they are to imbue their students with the values to make a contribution. For example, UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals have given us a clear bearing for helping shape communities and networks that have joined together to put the planet and their communities first.
Many poets, thinkers and leaders have expressed thoughts and, above all, a dedication to the planet. Today, we allow their wise words to calibrate us towards unity, towards duty and towards beauty.
In a commencement address to the University of Arizona, Luci Tapahonso says
“May we always recognize the multitude of gifts that surround us.
May our homes, schools, and communities be filled with the wisdom
and optimism that reflect a generous spirit.
We are grateful for all blessings, seen and unseen.
May we fulfill the lives envisioned for us at our birth. May we realize
that our actions affect all people and the earth. May we live in the way
of beauty and help others in need.”
In a poem titled “The River”, Jim Harrison explores nature as a portal to the transcendent:
“Yes, we’ll gather by the river,
the beautiful, the beautiful river.
They say it runs by the throne of God.
Shall we gather at the river, this beautiful river?
We’ll sing with the warblers perched on his eyelashes.”
Joy Harjo begs us to remember that we are part of the Earth and to be present with its beauty in “Remember”:
“Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.”
Or as Alfred Corn reminds us:
“Any terrain you find arises from all
that came before: succeeding
event horizons from earlier eras
brought forward by today’s considered
impetus to lift the way it looks,
out toward whatever senses you are there—
breathed into completion, a sphere,
into all it is.”
Tune in to this remarkable conversation between Krista Tippett, Ellen Davis and Wendell Berry to get a better understanding of the long-standing relationship between humans and the Earth, as well as a helpful perspective on appreciation.
Climate change is the single biggest challenge facing humanity today. Together we can get through it, but we must enable and empower our leaders, our classrooms and our communities to act quickly, act together and act smart.
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