|Copyright JSH 2012|
There are improvements that have been made, of course. But, I feel like our little rock in the universe is getting bullied quite a bit these days. Decades old legislation that keeps our air a little bit cleaner and our water a little bit clearer is being challenged - and with a frightening amount of might - because now environmental protection is being seen as a hindrance to corporations, to capitalism and to success. There seems to be a push back against the environmental movement and this planet is taking an alarming beating as of late.
There needs to be more than Earth Day. There needs to be more than the green movement. Oh, how I hated that. Do you remember that? A few years ago, everybody was all about being green. I remember saying over and over how the "green living" trend was going to come back to bite us in the ass. Why? Because being green became a trend. What happens to trends? They die. Here we are, a few years later, and people are tired of hearing about being green. They are rebelling against it. They are annoyed with it. It never should have been made a trend. Our planet cannot afford our care to be a trend.
It's a cliché that you hear every year at this time - Earth Day should be everyday. It's the truth. We need to instill the values of environmental stewardship in our children from a young age. They should learn that Mama Earth is precious to us and, while she gives us plenty, she needs us to take care of her. This is how I was raised.
I was raised by wild hippies, with long hair, unshaven everything and a tie-dyed minivan. Okay, only part of that is true. My dad really is a hippie and has been since the counterculture existed. My dad is a Vietnam War Veteran and he came back from the war and marched on over to Washington D.C. and was arrested for chaining himself to a fence outside the White House in protest of the war. My dad has several marches and protests under his belt. He has also been unshaven since he came home from the war. I have never seen my dad without a beard in person. I've only seen pictures of him from the late 60's. He looked just like John Voight (which he used to his advantage with the ladies). My mom isn't a hippie per say, but she married my dad, so... Anyway, I was raised to respect the Earth. It wasn't ever forced on me or drilled into my head. It was just a casual part of life. We composted in our city backyard starting when I was in grade school (this is the 1980's). We recycled before there was curbside pick-up, saving our cans and bottles to take to the recycling plant and getting some change for it. We always had gardens of some sort - veggies, plants and flowers. I played outside just about everyday. My dad took me for walks in the woods at least once a week. He would point out all sorts of trees and vegetation, teaching me how to identify their leaves. He'd show me animal tracks, fur, old bones and school me on who they belonged to. One of the most important things he said - and he really only mentioned it once - was that there were spirits/souls in everything - trees, animals, plants, the ground. He told me they watched over the Earth and it's inhabitants and that they are happy when they see people taking care of the planet and being kind to ALL of her creatures. I've held onto that since I was a small child.
It was just the simple daily things of recycling, composting, getting out in nature and touching nature that got me into the habit of respecting the environment. My parents never preached, they just led by example and answered questions. Truly, the only "preaching" is what my dad said about Spirits in the forest. I think being allowed to go outside and to explore the natural world had one of the biggest impacts on me. Just being out there in plain old nature inspired me to plain old respect nature. I think these are key elements for children today. Get them outside to touch the dirt, feel grass in between their toes, smell the ocean (or a lake, stream, pond, river if you are far from a coast). Let them learn about all the bugs, birds and animals that are out there. For the most part, learning stifles fear and fosters respect.
A word about preaching. Several friends have shared with me that they are no longer comfortable in their churches because their pastors have preached against environmentalism, calling the "green living" movement to be some sort of trick of Satan. Now, I have seen reference to this in the national and international news, even among my own religion, Catholicism. It was explained to me by friends that their pastors likened respecting the Earth with worshiping the Earth (which is fine with me!) and that was something to be frowned upon. One friend said her pastor stressed that you cannot drill or plow the Earth too much as God will always provide, despite Biblical verses to the contrary (