Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
I struggle with the notion that the majority of Americans think that WE (we, as in the collective group of eco-conscious individuals) are burdening them with our “environmental issues”. For years, we have been labeled as tree huggers, hippies, low-life free-loaders and a multitude of other demeaning names by others, even our own family members at times. Sure we hug trees; we love trees, they give us oxygen to breathe. Of course we dance to music and practice random acts of kindness; it is our form of stress relief. Yes we reduce, re-use, recycle; we are highly resourceful individuals.
We don’t waste food and we find fulfillment in saving things from going to a landfill. We grow our own food and medicine, we try to live a healthy and holistic lifestyle, we compost, we try to the best of our best abilities not to rely heavily on fossil fuels, we limit our water usage, we make our own gifts, and we try a little harder each day to make the world a better place. We are activists and advocates for the Earth. We are mindful, creative, liberal, progressive, imaginative, practical, intelligent and intuitive. We are the ones working to protect the air, the water, the soil, the precious natural resources, the ancient old growth forests, and the Earth as a living, breathing organism. We show a profound respect for the future of the Earth that should merit gratitude in others; gratitude for working diligently to protect the environment for all those who inhabit the Earth, and for future generations. Instead, we are met with judgment, criticism, and discontent.
Environmental issues affect EVERYONE, not just those who are eco-conscious. Carl Sagan summed it up nicely: “Anything else you're interested in is not going to happen if you can't breathe the air and drink the water. Don't sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.”
A question that has been on my mind for over a decade is: What determines the way an individual does or does not become a steward of the Earth? Is it an intrinsic moral obligation? Are we born with an innate instinct to want to protect the Earth and its natural resources? As far as I’m concerned, how could anyone NOT care about the environment? It should be the norm to want to make this world a better place. On the contrary, there are individuals walking amongst us who seem utterly incapable of showing concern for the environment. How can we set an example for these individuals? How can we walk mindfully, every day and set positive examples for others, especially for children? For the future of the planet, it is a necessity for children to grow up knowing how to be environmentally conscious, how to reduce their carbon footprint, and how to encourage others to do the same. A quote by Chief Seattle often comes to mind, "Teach your children what we have taught ours, that the Earth is our Mother.
Whatever befalls the Earth befalls the sons of the Earth. The Earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the Earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children." Making others, especially the youth, aware of "environmental issues" is vital to the future of everyone around the globe.