For the Love of the Earth
An Earth Day musing
by Megan Kaun, Director, Sonoma Safe Ag Safe Schools
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Rumi
Walk with me on a thought experiment for a moment. What if life as we knew it was part of a simulation; the cast/set design/costumes/premise of an elaborate play. What an interesting play to be a part of! Here's the premise: humans living on a degraded/dieing planet with historic memories of an unspoiled and pristine past just a stones throw back in the past. We are surrounded with crushing excess, while knowing that almost everything we interact with has a damning dark side: toxicity, made with child labor, environmental degradation, made with fossil fuels, wiping out old growth forests, etc. We are dependent, even addicted, to all of these things and yet we hate ourselves for having them. We try to make change but the momentum toward the status quo and what feels like definite destruction is too strong to swim against. Meanwhile, we try to enjoy nature; take hikes, garden, tend to the wild birds and insects, but we have trouble connecting with the natural beauty and flow because our deep grief and anger over their degradation and destruction is all encompassing. To top it all off, we are ever anxious and aware of looming mass extinction and the rapid dwindling of basic resources (clean air, water, food) that we all need to live.
What a fascinating situation we're all in together!
From this more detached viewpoint, what strikes me is that one of the most difficult and self destructive aspects of this particular reality construct is that the perceived brokenness of our earth is getting in the way of us connecting with and falling in love with the earth. We protect what we love, or as Baba Dioum said in 1968, "In the end we will conserve only what we love". If our love of the earth (and ourselves, each other, etc.) is conditional, then we are truly lost. If we are constantly trying to fix the earth (and each other, ourselves, etc.) before we can completely fall in love with "her" (and each other, ourselves, etc.) and be at peace, then we will never get there. However, if we can find our unconditional love of the earth (and ourselves, each other, etc.) no matter how much garbage, PFAS, pesticides, invasive species, EMFs, whatever (!!) are around then our species has a true chance of redemption. Paradoxically, this unconditional love of the earth (and ourselves, each other, etc.) is just what we need to embody before we can find the true solutions and paradigm shifts needed to fundamentally heal the planet (and ourselves, each other, etc!) As Einstein famously said "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
So today, challenge yourself to accept and fall in love with our planet and her inhabitants unconditionally, every superfund site, garbage dump, coal mine, and brownfield. Love the earth just as she is, without any shame, blame, irony or judgement. Fall in love deeply, irrationally, irreversibly, stupidly, ecstatically...and see what happens <3
Earth Day, April 22, 2023
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” Rachael Carson