I have a few thoughts and links for you today, on Earth Day 2008.
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, makes a good case in this NY Times editorial for why we should bother to “go green” these days, in the face of discouragement and despair that whatever we do won’t be enough to turn the tide of global climate change.
It’s about a change in consciousness.
“Sometimes you have to act as if acting will make a difference, even when you can’t prove that it will,” Pollan writes. “That, after all, was precisely what happened in Communist Czechoslovakia and Poland, when a handful of individuals like Vaclav Havel and Adam Michnik resolved that they would simply conduct their lives ‘as if’ they lived in a free society. That improbable bet created a tiny space of liberty that, in time, expanded to take in, and then help take down, the whole of the Eastern bloc.”
He goes on to suggest that we each find one thing to do in our lives “that doesn’t involve spending or voting, that . . . is real and particular (as well as symbolic) and that, come what may, will offer its own rewards. Maybe you decide to give up meat, an act that would reduce your carbon footprint by as much as a quarter. Or you could try this: determine to observe the Sabbath. For one day a week, abstain completely from economic activity: no shopping, no driving, no electronics.” Or we could try his favorite: growing some of our own food. I’m not quite ready to do that, but I will continue buying my fresh veggies from local farmers or the public market.
(For more ideas on individual actions to take, check out Google’s cool interactive Earth Day 2008 map.)
Perhaps our individual actions don’t amount to as much as the difference one corporation or government entity could make, but is that any reason not to try? We need to be in this for the long haul, long after “going green” is no longer as trendy and fashionable as it is today. And as Pollan says, it truly is about the shift in consciousness.
That statement reminds me of the saying (attributed to Gandhi) that “we must be the change we want to see in the world.” Which leads me to ruminate on last night’s web class with Eckhart Tolle, in which he advises a young woman to do her activist’s work from a place of inner peace rather than anger or agitation. “If you are in a state of peace then everything you do in the world will bring peace to the world, and that’s how you change the world.”
Meanwhile Beth OwlsDaughter today reminds of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ inspiring manifesto Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times.
Cate Kerr graces us with a beautiful photo and poem.
And James Wells reminds us to “Go for a walk outside and take a deep, deep breath. Admire a big, old tree. Plant something in your garden. Unplug appliances that aren’t used very often. Donate money to help save a forest or an animal species. Write a poem. Jot down 10 things in nature for which you’re grateful. Whatever is joyful and honours Life is a good celebration of Earth Day.”
Happy Earth Day, everyone. Let’s make it last more than just one day.