Wednesday, April 22nd. Is Earth day and one holiday I can really relate to. The first Earth Day celebration I remember was at a food co-op that Frank and I were members of in the early 1980’s. Robert, one of the co-op founders constructed a rudimentary solar oven which we set up on the sidewalk in front of the co-op. Within a very short time, the oven was successfully cooking and we were serving free samples of solar cooked food to passers by. This demonstration generated a lot of interest and also educated people; myself included, about sustainability and natural resources. Thinking of that day, I became curious about Earth Day’s history, so I searched the web and here’s what I learned.
The seed was planted during President Kennedy’s administration. A senator, Gaylord Nelson, suggested a five day conservation tour around the country as a way to bring awareness of environmental issues to the general public. Kennedy subsequently did the tour, but, apparently, not a lot of attention was given to this event and it seemed that not much would come from it. However 7 years later, in 1970, the slowly germinating seed flowered into the first bona fide Earth Day celebration. At that time there were massive demonstrations against the Viet Nam war, which often included teach-ins. These teach-ins evolved to include environmental issues which resonated with a large segment of the population. As earth awareness grew, people like John Gardner, who was then the head of Common Cause, a grass roots organization and other grass roots organizations became involved. The movement took on a momentum of its own and continues to grow.
As Earth day approaches, there are now worldwide observances and celebrations. Schools, corporations, retailers and governments all participate, and some certainly cash in on earth day. While I am grateful for any progress, even superficial demonstrations, towards recognizing the challenges for humanity and our home, I believe there is something more profound beneath the surface occurring. To many of us, a mountain top removal or toxic ocean has become personal. It’s difficult to ignore the abuse and disrespect of the planet, or ludicrous to think that the environment has little effect on our health and well-being. We are the earth and the earth is us.
Inherent in Taoist tradition is the concept of self cultivation. Tai Chi, Yoga, meditation and the I Ching are among the disciplines that people are attracted to generally with the purpose of creating a healthier body and mind. When practiced consistently, these disciplines can improve health and well being; but as they become integrated and habitual, they become a true catalyst for change. As change takes hold, awareness grows and every action and breath one takes becomes nourishment for the seed of evolution that resides within. You still eat, sleep, work and play, but how you navigate comes from a deeper more connected understanding, and as understanding grows, each awakened individual becomes a catalyst for change within the collective consciousness and soul.
The greater number of us that pursue an enlightened path, the better the chances are for creating a balanced existence. A planet where people help more than hurt each other, respect each other and have reverence for nature and all that is seen and unseen. Master Ni once told our group to “watch comedy“. I didn’t realize how profound that simple statement was at the time, but I now know that what we hold in our minds and thoughts manifests into reality. If the majority of humans believe some terrible catastrophe of biblical proportions is going to occur or some natural disaster will wipe out humanity, then it’s possible it could manifest as a self fulfilling prophecy.
So, what could any of us do? Have clear intention to grow in awareness. Surround yourself with what nurtures you, and don’t let inertia, stubbornness or excuses deter you from moving more, eating better, sharing good thoughts, helping others or watching comedy. There are two creative primal forces in the universe, yin and yang. They sometimes oppose each other, but at other times they complement and support each other. Will we be able to work together collectively to create positive change for ourselves and the earth? Will enough of us reach critical mass in time to bring earth back into balance? I have no answers or facts, but I see human potential as infinite. Yin and Yang will always be, but even if some of the dire predictions for our future manifest, it will simply be a detour because the human spirit is indestructible.
By the way, I am proudly proclaiming to be a tree hugger, but hey, I’ll take wisdom where I can get it. I wish all my fellow tree huggers a healthy planet with many more Earth Days to come!