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OUR ONLY WORLD

I came across this post by Bruce on Earth Day, but have been busy attending and presenting at two conferences and completing work with student teachers. My delay provided me with room to reflect on what Earth Day means, raising questions for me about its meaning. Quite often, we relegate one day a year to celebrate a particular event and, once done, we relegate it do a shelf for another year. I think Earth Day is treated that way.

What Bruce’s reminds me of is the daily wonders I experience when I consider Earth Day an ongoing event. In this particular post, he draws on Wendell Berry who is an elegant voice on the concept of caring for the nest we share with each other. In his writing, Wendell Berry reminds me ecology and economy come from the Greek oikos, meaning household. My mother used to say “Even pigs do not poop where they live, eat, and sleep?”

Humans are not separate from nature. We are an integral part of nature and how we treat nature, including one another, speaks to who we are as part of nature. Do we exploit nature for 364 days without any consideration for tomorrow? Or, do we conserve its beauty and while over its worth and common good? I think a word that is often overlooked is prudent. Do we live within our means? Do we care for our household with prudence and care?

I understand the political notions of conversativism and progressivism as a false dichotomy. What does it mean to converse? What do we want to conserve? When we progress, what do we throw out? Both sides, if it can understood as sides, do little to conserve. In fact, I contend that, if we solved our environmental issues, the people who stand on opposite sides would be unhappy. They would be left with nothing to argue about and unable to point accusatory fingers at one another.

The post concludes with: “Only the present good is good. It is the presence of good – good work, good thoughts, good acts, good places – by which we know that the present does not have to be a nightmare of the future. ‘The kingdom of God is at hand’ because, if not at hand, it is nowhere.” In a Judeo-Christian biblical narrative and despite what many claim, we were left to be stewards of nature, to care for it, and allow it to flourish so we might flourish. This is not unique to the Judeo-Christian traditions. There are teachings attributed to The Buddha that speak to how we should treat animals. This includes their habitat, food source, water source, etc. and is not simply the treatment of pets and livestock. As well, Indigenous people share an understanding of the interconnectedness of nature and the universe.

I leave with you three quotes and I found many others.

Religion is what binds us together. It is not a set a beliefs, but faith in a community to do what is proper and share with one another.
Indifference is the opposite of love.
Share words and acts of grattitude and love for Nature.

nature is never finished. – robert smithson

out walking with the kinders we happened upon a white swan happy and in between seasons. the same as us.

Source: nature is never finished. – robert smithson

When I saw the title of Beth‘s post and read her poem, I thought what a profound moment. Nature has many stories to tell us and many ways of telling them that leave a mystery in each story. We are always between the moments and seasons that desribe the beauty of nature and who we are becoming.

Several years ago, I took a picture of a mountain face. I did not have any idea why I took. It just spoke to me, like the swan in Beth’s poem. I used the picture in a presentation about eco-ethics, after I read an article about geologists who use the striations of a mountain to allow it to tell them its story, knowing it can never be completely told.

When I look at that picture, the mountain tells an even less complete story. The mystery in the story is what draws me back to the picture and maybe is what drew me, without knowing that, when I took the picture.

Mountain's Layers

Being a Bee

I commented on How to Land about Eco Ethics. The underlying principle is deep ecology which shifts us from an environmental anthropocentric and views all living beings as having inherent worth and not merely instrumental value. Deep ecology understand a complex interdependence between all living beings and allows that to guide decision-making. We are part of the Earth and not holding dominion over it in this sense. We can make similar decisions about harvesting, mining, and building as we do but use numerous perspectives in doing so.

James Hatley wrote, The Uncanny Goodness of Being Edible to Bears. He referred to hunters, outdoors people, and survivors of bear attacks. People, who are deep ecologists, revere Nature and understand the risks of entering wilderness. Their view is Nature and what it holds makes us more human and complete, as we are one with Nature and not separate.

I wrote this poem as one way to better understand the concept myself.

Am I more than the sum of parts?

More than just a body, a mind, a spirit?

If so, what role might the bee play?

The one who manufactured honey?

The one I so enjoyed with bread today.

Is he or she part of me?

Or, is there even more to it than that?

What about the clover?

The water and other things used in delectable manufacture?

Can I now take that Bee’s perspective?

Ever so fleetingly,

Does it make a difference?

Might it be a lesson in being more human?

Letting the Bee be part of me?

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