Thursday, August 24, 2006

A Malignant Attitude

Each of us exists within the rhythm of the planet.

Whether we like it or not, I believe that all actions must be governed by the design of nature... or our earth will die. The thought of our world becoming virtually uninhabitable can seem a very distant and surreal concept, but it rings with a greater imminence than we realize. I see the quality of life on earth becoming poorer and poorer, notwithstanding what conventional statistics suggest. Perhaps I can look forward to a lifespan of 90, 100, even more. But do I want to exist on a planet where polar ice caps have melted away, remaining forestlands have been leveled, and the balance of the seasons has been dramatically realigned toward unbearable heat? Can I really enjoy a place where I know that animals are being tremendously abused and once fertile soil is being irrevocably stripped of all its nutrients to put a mass-produced and genetically modified dinner on my plate?

It is time for all of us to step into a role of greater awareness and sensibility toward the plight of the dramatically underrepresented natural environment. I applaud my friends who abstain from using their ovens in the summertime, instead focusing their meals around chilled salads and soups and exotic, sweet summer fruits and vegetables. I respect those who can live without tomatoes in the winter--for how many pounds of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere to transport that tomato from the tropics all the way to your grocery bag? I support the health food store that encourages the use of canvas shopping bags, and facilitates the recycling of those horribly inefficient plastic grocery bags that many supermarkets plow through at nauseating speeds. I thank the driver who makes a concerted effort to stay within the speed limit, knowing that the fuel economy of his car drops of drastically at speeds above 55 mph.

Over thousands of years, human beings have attempted to create their own rhythms by which to live. The problem is, there is no rhythm to how we choose to live our lives today. We live however we wish, whenever we wish. We pay no attention to the dictates of the seasons, nor to the beautifully orchestrated patterns of native plants and animals within each particular region. And so we strain the earth by consuming more energy, we strain the soil and the water supply and the local ecosystem by introducing nonnative species. And we do it without hesitation, without consideration as to the repercussions of our supposed benign actions.

I walked outside this morning into a world immersed in gray. From somewhere far beyond the low quilt of clouds overlying my world, I heard a muffled rumbling of the heavens. And I was reminded that mankind does not have the final dictate as to the condition of the world. There is always something far greater than us at work, and our meddling with the design of nature can only cause ruin. Too often we follow our own designs and desires, and close our eyes and ears to the blatant signals that beg attention toward the mess we are making. But we cannot live this way with impunity forever. Instead we must hear the rolling thunder and respond, all the while respecting that we are not sovereign in this world.

One of the simplest and greatest books ever written, The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, commissions us succintly and eloquently to look further ahead with the following poignant declaration:

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not."

As I walked to class this morning, I was glad to have brought my umbrella.

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