In Our Nature – Earth Day

If you are fortunate to have a little spring weather and the chance to step outside today, take a chance and enjoy the benefits of life on planet Earth. Now, as you breathe in a little fresh spring air, consider that you are, wherever you are, a citizen of Earth.

Millennials are paradoxical. We have ways of existing and understanding concepts that seem impossible to join. We are free-thinkers and individuals, but we like teamwork. Saying and understanding that we are all citizens of Earth is probably an easy thing for anyone in Gen Y, because we have become part of the global community since our introduction to the world. There is nothing wrong with special affinity for our country of origin or current homeland, but strict focus makes us miss the forest for the trees.

Earth Day and the environmental movement came to prominence about a decade before the first Millennial was born. In December of 1970, President Nixon signed a bill that created the Environmental Protection Agency. Earlier that year, celebrations for “Earth Day” were held as people began to see real need to address the health of our planet. A thank you is due to the Boomers and GI generations who saw the world their Gen X children were inheriting and moved to act.

Since those early days, Gen Y had Captain Planet to show us the way. Recycling programs, conservation efforts, and the foresight of older generations, have made Gen Y members attuned to environmental issues. By hearing stories about what we could lose, we understood that enjoying life in the moment did not supersede preserving life for those after us. Dr. Suess’s “The Lorax” was published in 1971, and it remains one of my most treasured books from my childhood. Someone must speak for the trees, speak for the animals, and speak for the people without voice, even if others try to speak louder.

I was very fortunate to grow up with access to urban areas as well as the natural world. On hikes I would hear the birds and insects. While kayaking, I would see fish and feel rocked by Mother Nature’s gentle waves. People forget that we were once a species in the wilderness. At that time our societies drew on our place in nature, not today’s view of being apart from nature. I dislike getting bitten by mosquitoes as much as the next person, but pulling ourselves out of the natural cycle is a dooming option. The famous book, “Silent Spring” about our use of the pesticide DDT showed how we could devastate the natural world at our peril if we were not careful. Our success in anything is not merely measured by our talents or good fortune, but by the home we share that provides the resources for our success.

While we walk on the Earth, we must be stewards of the gifts we have. If someone wished to give a favorite book or heirloom to another after their passing, they would treasure it and keep it safe. Each successive generation that preserves our world ensures all of us the chance to accomplish more as a species. We are in nature, and we must make sure that it remains in us. Go out and enjoy nature today. Make your mark by leaving no mark, take pictures, observe, protect living things, respect the natural world, and leave it better than you found it for those who follow after.

Happy Earth Day – 2013

He Kindly Stopped For Me

We laid my uncle to rest today. As I continue to consider deeper questions on life and existence, I am brought back to reality by the spring air and flowers dancing in the breeze. For life in the North East, the return of spring heralds much promise. And though sadness is upon my family, the joy of such renewal reminds us that the bitterness of cold, or the decline of health, does not last forever.

The thoughts in my mind turned to matters of faith today. For some, faith/religion can become such divisive issues, that to even mention the most subtle hint of discussion stirs great controversy. If I mark the trend in Millennials, that many do not ascribe to being members of an organized religion, perhaps I would be best to avoid any mention thereof. — Fair warning, I think meaningful and hot-button issues don’t require boxing gloves, rather a comfortable table with calm, respectable, and tactful discussion.

Just because someone does not believe, act, or worship a certain way, does not mean that they are without faith or having belief in something. I am a bridge builder, and it is not my place to say what is the supreme and unequivocal answer to everything. Also, I don’t believe anyone alive today can honestly say they know the answer. To do so would have people fighting over the answer as they have done for ages. I’d like to think Gen Y is ok with forgoing proving points and claiming who has the answer in favor of finding the right questions:

“Why do people suffer?”

“What can I do to help?”

“Where am I needed most?”

Representing such diverse visions, I can only say what I feel shows respect to those whom I seek to represent. I know that I know not. I seek knowledge, and I live according to the faith that I have developed through my life. And the only certainty I have is to live with love. Measure life with love. Judge your actions by love and the love they bring into the world. Beyond this, I think people will find their own expressions and beliefs; perhaps love will have the strength and care to cradle all the beliefs together.

Millennials have come into a world that has more information available than any point previous and it suits our nature as learners. By keeping our minds open we allow growth, and by being people of love, no one needs fear persecution. Science and faith will find ways to coexist, and respect and tact will grow connections in the face of different perspectives. Our greatest challenge will be to remember to love, even during the hardest moments. Forgiveness and mercy bring healing, and love is the thing that carries it all. Don’t let certainty of fact make you immune to an open heart and open mind. Remember that the Earth was most certainly flat and the center of the universe at one time.

In closing, and because creativity helps in times of sadness; here are some stanzas inspired by Emily Dickinson’s poem on meeting death:

Because I could not stop for death
He kindly stopped for me
And drew about his cloak of silk
The veil eternity

“Good friend” said he in somber tone,
“Your hour is now at hand.”
“So come and go with me,” he said,
“To that far distant land.”

“But think you that it early yet,
for my departure now?”
“I’ve things undone,” I pleaded there,
“To stay, I pray allow.”

“No mortal flesh can linger long;
Souls shed weight they carry.
 Away we must to myst’ries all,
Rise dear one, don’t tarry.”

The hand out-stretched as one to guide;
Intention he made clear.
One journey through, and one to start;
There was no cause to fear.

I followed leaving all behind,
 Of trials ev’rywhere.
Unburdened from life’s sinew hold,
And free of all my care.

The flowers waved in lilting form,
Winter’s hold was over.
Returned in whole the ring of time,
‘Midst fields full of clover.

Our time with limit someday ends;
We make our journey home.
 In peace and myst’ry long to dwell,
Eternal Heaven’s dome.

Post, Post-Script — Note to self: take a few extra moments to review work before posting for spelling, etc. even if the subject matter is multi-layered and interesting. Clear and correct posts are classy. Don’t let desire to share affect overall image. Haste makes waste.