Today is still Earth Day, and I s’pect tomorrow will be, too

Posted April 23rd, 2015 in Blog, Featured Comments Off on Today is still Earth Day, and I s’pect tomorrow will be, too

Did you have a good Earth Day? In some places, they’ve made it Earth Week. I’m grateful for the many powerful statements and actions, rituals and cultural expressions of our deep relationship within the womb that is Gaia, with all the living eco-communities, all interrelated and interconnected and mixed up with one another in an evolutionary process called “life,” life on a Living Planet.

We need to be inspired. It’s what any spirituality needs – places for it to be witnessed, lived, shared in community. Humans have always done this. But it has been uniquely Western to do it apart from Nature, to cut Nature out of the ritual/religious/spiritual picture, to make it lesser, even ooky, to make Man and God superior to it, separate from it, as if that could ever be true. That’s a big part of the pathology that has brought us to this crisis of industrial anti-civilization.

While more and more of us honor the sacredness of this planet and are awed by the rich complexity of life, the relationship itself opens a deep wound as we come to realize that virtually no part of Gaia is undamaged anymore because of what humans have done to make a “civilization” that is dependent upon doing more and more damage to our Mother.

I love this video. I’ve watched it about a dozen times since yesterday. So simple. So searing. So true.

Video: The Earth is our Mother

But, about Earth Day, may I also gently say that there is something unseemly about how commercialized the annual “celebration” has become, a time for many corporations to shine their green credentials, for business to sell green products, for suburban homeowners to perhaps recycle a bit more.

Yeah, that’s my cynical side.

Million gallon oil leak near the BP refinery in Whiting IN

Million gallon oil leak near the BP refinery in Whiting IN

Of course, like Arkan Lushwala in this short film, for many of us, it’s a time when we try to push another message out in an attempt to break through the cultural fog, the incessant commercial noise, of this anti-civilization – to remind our fellow humans that we are utterly dependent beings on this planet, and that breaking relations with those things on which we are dependent is a pretty stupid thing to do – like poisoning the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat; like paving over for comfortable suburban living the rich soils that we will need to grow food in our bio-regions when this insane global anti-food industry breaks down, as it will within the next couple of decades; like planning to build infrastructure for this burgeoning human population within this version of a global economy that is greater than all the infrastructure built from the beginning of human evolution to now (and where will the materials and the water and and the energy come from for all that development?).

Earth Day. I spent much of mine in deep reflection, listening at times to an internet earth summit with super-stars like Brian Swimme, Barbara Marx Hubbard, etc., but finding myself over and over again wanting to get back down to Earth, to the wisdom of people  like Lushwala, to those who gaze not as much into the heavens but into this place that is our home and which we have so abused and neglected.

Maybe also because it’s Spring and, while I lost my garden of recent years and need to find another one, here in the North it’s the time when a good organic gardener first puts a spade in the ground, turns over the soil and, behold, worms! and the years of working it means that spade goes down a foot with ease, and you have to put your hands in it and smell it and feel it, and then to realize the food that will come from it, the reward of the combination of soil, care for the soil, one’s hands and simple tools, the seeds, the gentle spring rains, the hot summer sun…

It’s a partnership, and with any one of those relations missing, the garden has a problem.

We humans have cut so many of these relationships, have replaced many of them with giant machines and chemical inputs, have destroyed so many natural habitats, interfered with the interrelationships of energy flows from rain and sun and bees and worms, that the whole planet is in varying stages of breakdown.

Watch the video again. The second time it just might make you weep. And if you’re like me, the more you watch it, the deeper the sense of grief – and love.

As we seek ways to re-create our own living relationships within the webs of life around us, we have to be keenly aware of what is shredding those webs, tearing at the connections until the web is barely holding together. Think of that web like a hammock, and you’re lying in it, and at some point, that one-too-many threads will snap and you will fall through.

Yeah, think of our human anti-civilizations a bit like that. Close your eyes and imagine it like that. Doesn’t it make you want to get to work doing some re-knitting?

Let the children teach us. Video: Noah’s Project for White House Junior Film Festival

I think of my great-nieces and nephew and I rush to get out my version of knitting needles. What can I do today to help with the repair, the healing? One thing is to stop contributing to the shredding as much as I possibly can.

I love Earth Day, even when the culture does its usual thing of commodifying and commercializing it. I can still turn off that noise. See, I remember the first one 45 years ago. And I remember that it was birthed out of my home state here of Wisconsin, from the passion and inspiration of Gaylord Nelson. And I remember what a rich legacy we had here, the pride and love for our particular version of Nature – the rivers and lakes, the woods and sand hills, the gorgeous sunrises along Lake Michigan, the kettles and moraines… I think of Aldo Leopold and John Muir and Rachel Carson.

And then I ponder how the politics of my state has been bought by corporate money that is rolling back every bit of this legacy and handing our state over to the dirtiest corporate interests for their exploitation and profit.

More and more of us are becoming sick of this way of living, of organizing human life. And more and more that disgust with the industrial growth economy is forming itself into a movement that is beginning to have real impact, especially where it is most needed – within the culture itself.

Speaking at UW-Whitewater for the Enbridge Tar Sands Resistance Tour

Speaking at UW-Whitewater for the Enbridge Tar Sands Resistance Tour. Photo: Thomas Frank

I saw lots of evidence of that yesterday, and indeed in the many places I am privileged to participate as a speaker, workshop leader, consultant on projects, facilitator, collaborator. It is a gift of this work to have access to sources of new creation, to be able to give reason for hope as it says in the New Testament. There is reason – there is plenty of reason.

So, after the programs for the week, we continue our work of healing, of re-knitting, of renewal, learning from the source itself, Gaia and those most deeply connected with Gaia, how to become truly human again.

Margaret Swedish
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