I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
These were the beginning lines of a poem that I recently read. Given the prevalence of environmental awareness these days, Earth Day should be more than a day to advocate the preservation of the environment. It should be used as a day to remember our personal connection to the Earth.
The modern, individualistic way of thinking about the earth views it as an entity separate from ourselves that we have to take care of. But whether one endorses Creationism or Evolution, our bodies were essentially formed from the earth. Thus we do not merely exist on the planet Earth; we are a part of it.
We are connected to the earth in the same way a baby is connected to its mother because it came from within her. In this way we are also linked to everything else that came from the Earth. Respecting the Earth it means taking the time to recognize and celebrate our relationship with it-swim in a river, lie in the grass in the sun, feed breadcrumbs to geese at a lake, hug a tree, smile at a stranger.
If we are disconnected from nature, we are essentially separated from a part of ourselves. This disconnection keeps people from adequately monitoring their daily actions that have negative affects on the earth.
A love for nature is the only thing that can truly motivate real and lasting environmental change. I am filled with a supreme sense of serenity and wonder when I watch water running in a brook, or observe the various contours of a tree. I feel as though my soul is connected to them, which makes sense when one remembers that we all originate from the earth.
It is out of this intense love for nature that I walk every day to school or work. This time, when I can feel my connection to the earth, is essential to my daily well-being. It helps me to feel whole and at peace with myself.
Driving essentially isolates us from nature. Many people drive because their schedules are so busy they feel they have no other choice. But the truth is, we all have a choice, and how we prioritize our lives is what determines our decision.
Our lives can become so controlled by this abstract concept of time that we are no longer experiencing fulfilled and happy lives. Productivity and making money should not be such high priorities that they keep us from taking the time to enjoy the beauty in the world and feel our oneness with nature.
Another problem in our world today is that we are not forced to encounter nature in the way people used to encounter it. We do not see the source of the things we use, and are not involved in the process of their development.
If I had to cut down the tree that was going to be used to make my paper or if I had to feel the loss of cutting its life short, it would be much harder to use as though there is an unlimited supply.
If I had to plant seeds, watch them grow, and then harvest the plants for food, it would be much more difficult to waste. Today it is easy to forget to feel thankful that the sole purpose of each plant or animal’s life has become to provide our body with nourishment.
Remembering that we are connected to everything else in the earth, and taking the time to feel this connection, is the primary way in which we can start doing a better job of preserving the environment.
We must re-discover our bond to the earth in a way that will inspire the discipline and devotion necessary for a genuine commitment to long-term change and restoration.
Mary Ackerson is a senior political science major. Her column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.