Earth Day on the Cusp of COVID
Thinking on it, I find it hard to see how one
can love the earth but not fellow human beings.
And also, it seems incongruous that one
could love humanity and exact sins of degradation
against nature. Whether wings and feathers or
hands and fingers, we share the same air, same water,
same soil, same earth. We share, regardless of color
or condition of skin or plumage, the same fate.
Efforts at good beget better when they converge.
- – Drew Lanham
Who are we, now? On this planet – this Earth – at this fraught and weary time, how do we make sense of our lives and the way we make up community?
Culture is a dynamic thing – we make it up as we go along. At the same time, culture is vital to our knowing who we are and how to behave. Some cultures are more sustainable than others. In fact, the ones that do best over the long haul are those that align themselves with the ways of nature. And that just makes sense. The natural world, after all, has been incredibly successful when it comes to building vital communities. That wisdom is our wisdom.
Last year was the 50th year Earth Day was celebrated formally among human communities. And we were all inside – distanced – many already locked down. It was a very weird 50th anniversary for such a fine planet.
Coming up on this one – well, many of you know that we’re excited to be focused on the Earth Day event that will celebrate the publication of our book – Full Ecology – Repairing Our Relationship with the Natural World.
As we talked with interviewers over recent months, we’ve found a theme really worth sharing right now – just before our virtual event, just before Earth Day. It goes like this:
Over the past year we’ve all found ourselves in circumstances we could never have anticipated. We learned how to wear masks, how to shop while keeping at a distance, how to bank and work and learn and go to the doctor in very different ways. We’ve learned about Zoom, about the pitfalls of talking over someone in an internet-based conversation. We’ve learned to be virtual.
None of which been all-together fun. But for the most part, it hasn’t been awful either. And there are still lots of yet-to-be noted skills we’ve developed as a result of having gone through this time.
Let’s underscore that.
We are adaptive and improvisational beings. When conditions change, when stress rises and circumstances demand, we figure out ways to adapt. We engage our considerable capacity for patience (at times reluctantly) and for care (in abundance we may not have known we had). In short, we develop new skills and also hone old ones. And that ability will be both relevant and necessary as we go forward into the challenges of climate change.
This past year is not something we’d wish on anyone. We’ve lost much. We’ve missed out on experiences we cherish. Too many people have died. But our species has built skills for surviving and thriving that, going forward, will help us meet whatever is around the corner.
Check to see if you’re feeling more of any of these:
– A sense of deep heart connection with other people.
– A renewed affection for the natural world.
– A willingness to see and interrupt cruelty and injustice.
– A readiness to learn.
– Greater ease with admitting you may be wrong.
– Greater sense of how precious a life is.
– A commitment to kindness over “me first.”
These are skills that re-activate your truest nature. Evolutionary biology has shown again and again that the primary characteristic that has kept humans viable up to now is, in fact, cooperation. We could even call it kindness. No matter the tough guy or who cares façade, kindness has been our survival.
This is the way of the natural world, too. Not a kindness that wants to be noticed and rewarded. But a more highly resilient benevolence – listening, watching and adjusting as needed to sustain the best functioning of all.
We’re thrilled to have our book coming out on this holiday for the Earth – a set of thoughts and ideas to help us along the way. On April 22, Earth Day, we’d like to invite you to join us for A Walk in the Wild – a video adventure, book launch and conversation with Sister Helen Prejean, celebrated author of Dead Man Walking.
Let’s take time to take a look at what we know now that we didn’t know a year ago – the stories and connections, the wisdom and skills we have now to carry us forward.