I believe in the healing power of the living planet, in the earth’s holy ability to reclaim itself at a moment’s notice — without warning, without apology, without the need for justifications or subterfuge.
The earth doesn’t need to invent WMDs or imminent danger as an excuse to unleash its fury, and in this way it’s more honest than humans can ever be. All our planet needs is the proper climate conditions and voila – buildings are transformed into piles of debris, bridges crumble into the waters below, and man’s stamp is erased in the blink of an eye.
This is not to say, of course, that I delight in the tragedies wrought by recent natural disasters – quite the opposite. My heart aches for the victims of the 2004 tsunami, and I screamed myself hoarse at the television as those trapped by Katrina suffered in the filth of their abandoned New Orleans. As a resident of Central Florida who has weathered six hurricanes in the past two years, I can relate in my own small way to the horrors they’ve endured, and I’ve given all I can afford to help them and the victims of similar events.
In the short term, I see the cost in lives and dollars that such natural disasters bring, and I’m horrified. But over the long run, the knowledge of the earth’s awesome power sustains and strengthens me. Humankind’s unrelenting hubris, displayed over millennia of recorded history, is grounded in a misguided belief that we can control the world around us, shape it in our own image. Thus we use up its resources, pave over its pristine expanses and wage bloody campaigns to wrest from others the riches nature has provided.
Through it all, our planet patiently waits, ready to knock us from our egoistic pedestal and wash away what we’ve built, displaying its supreme, unbiased authority.
I still become enraged by politicians and fellow citizens who turn a blind eye to global warming, to our obscene gluttony of natural resources, to the consequences of a throw-away culture of waste that leaves, for succeeding generations, a legacy of overflowing landfills, polluted waterways and smog-choked skies. I still recycle, keep the air conditioner at a warm 80 degrees, and avoid unnecessary auto trips. In the short term, I believe these actions can help make the world, or at least my little piece of it, a better place for me and my family, and for the families to follow.
In the long run, however, I believe Mother Earth will take care of all of it for me. Through her winds and rain, earthquakes, lava flows and massive waves, she will recycle our garbage for us, wipe our slate clean. And then, perhaps, whoever or whatever follows us will show more reverence for her power and might, and treat her with the respect she deserves. This, I believe.
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