This I Believe

Jayne - Portland, Oregon
Entered on January 21, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

Each day I go to work, my goal is to save the planet from human destruction by conserving natural land in my community. I so badly want for humans to coexist with nature. I want us to strike the right balance. I want something to be left for my children and grandchildren. Yet, so often I am filled with despair, failure and hopelessness when another careless housing track is built.

After 7 years of a watching a war-mongering and environmentally careless administration, I have come to one of my fundamental beliefs. I believe that the only contributions I can really make toward world peace and a healthy planet are the breathtaking number of decisions I make every day. For example:

How did I ask my husband to empty the dishwasher or change our daughter’s diaper? Was it a voice of empathy and kindness or was it filled with venom and disdain? Do I use an extra piece of saran wrap to cover the leftovers? Did I pay attention on my walk to the park? Did I hear the train in the distance, notice the dying rose on the sidewalk? Did I sow the seeds of peace and healthy planet today? Or, did I perpetuate war and violence through my mindless words and actions?

Only through practicing mindfulness and awareness of my surroundings and others, can I ever hope that George Bush might sign onto the Kyoto protocols, my only hope that Dick Cheney will not continue to pursue another vain war in Iran. If I am not peaceful, if I do not make decisions healthy for the planet, how I can ever expect them to?

One way that I like to pursue mindfulness is in gardening. When I select plants, are they native to my region? What might have grown in my area prior to western settlement? Will these plants need continuous watering all summer long? Will they invade my neighbors yard or send off toxic seeds to nearby natural areas and waterways? Will the birds and the bees use these plants? What kind of mulch will I use, where did it come from?

I sometimes raise my fears and hopelessness to my colleagues in the environmental community. I tell them that I have had to give up on a belief that tomorrow will be different. If I am hopeless they ask, how can I continue? I know that I put one foot in front of the other and try to make each mundane decision in a way that promotes peace and a healthy planet. A quote hangs next to my computer by Martin Luther King Jr. It goes something like this “Even if I know that tomorrow the word would descend into chaos and darkness, I would still plant an apple tree today.”