I celebrate Earth Day. For me, taking care of the earth is based on religious beliefs. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. . . . And God saw every thing that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:1, 31). Each of us as children of God knows this is true. We know it in the very core of our being. Why, then, do we neglect to care for this gift from our Creator? I don’t believe we do it in contempt but, rather, in carelessness.
But there has come the time—now—when this carelessness is destroying the world we love, leaving a dismal future for our posterity. Fears of global warming and other destructions of Mother Earth motivate many of us to do better; but should we be motivated by fear? I choose to be motivated by love—for myself, my family, mankind, and my posterity. I want to leave a beautiful earth for them. My son has autism, and I strongly believe that he needs to be outside in nature to fully connect with his surroundings. He needs to be unplugged. He needs to be soothed by beautiful creations made by His Creator. I’m not the only one who feels this way. AutismSpeaks.org has touted the benefits. Other organizations, such as this one in Australia, are also working hard to connect children on the spectrum to nature.
If we aren’t connected to this greater whole, then I don’t believe we’ll find true happiness in life or change enough to make a difference in protecting our planet. Eckhart Tolle describes a “collective dysfunction of the human mind” that “brings about violence to one another and destruction of our planet.” He says, “The destruction of oxygen-producing forests and other plant and animal life, . . . poisoning of rivers, oceans, and air” are driven by greed. “Ignorant of their connectedness to the whole, humans persist in behavior that, if continued unchecked, can only result in their own destruction” (A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, 2005, 11).
We often hear Christians of all religions declare that the signs of the Apocalypse are evident, that we’re nearing “The End.” Only God knows when this will occur, but I believe He leaves us to choose how we will live—for however long that may be. We can decide if we will enjoy and honor the gifts He has given us, or we can choose to carelessly abuse them until they are no longer.
True motivation comes when we think beyond ourselves. Do we not want to leave clear mountain streams, nature at its best, for our posterity? Already, I am one generation removed from the lifestyle my parents once enjoyed. An avid outdoorsman, my father describes many a hunting trip when he and friends hiked for miles on available property. Wildlife wasn’t just found by the side of the road. You experienced the outdoors, cooking meals from the game you harvested. Will my son ever know of this? Only through his grandfather’s stories. Those days are primarily gone. Fortunately, his paternal grandfather had the foresight to purchase several acres of remote land and build a cabin for us to enjoy. Sadly, not all will have such experiences, which should be free and available to all. But I believe there is still time to change.
There is always hope in a better tomorrow. Why? Because each of us has the power to change. Collectively, that power is mightier than we might imagine. If everyone asks him or herself what they can do to preserve this beautiful earth—to enjoy now and for years to come—then we can halt, and possibly reverse, the damage to our ecosystem. It’s not too late.
Introspection is necessary. As parents or grandparents, we might take a hard look at what we are modeling for our children. Do we show respect and gratitude for our surroundings, our communities? Do we leave an area better than we found it? Do we motivate others to recycle their trash and reduce wasteful use of water? We can do so without lecturing or instilling fear. We can motivate from a moral perspective, a beneficial aspect.
Let’s start within our own homes. Single, married, or otherwise, we can better assess that which is in our control to change. We can make the effort to at least begin. Or we can continue to boost our efforts. Look for opportunities to teach respect for our planet. Cultivate a personal relationship with it. For me, gardening is a therapeutic way for me to reconnect with my Heavenly Father and my inner core. Every day in summer I see miracles in my backyard. One of my early-spring treats is harvesting peas planted in March. I can hardly believe the abundance I receive every year. By planting just a dozen peas, I harvest bowls full. God is ever gracious in blessing us. We plant just a little, and He blesses us in ways we couldn’t manage on our own. That’s what I want to teach my son. That’s how I want to connect with him.
As humans, we have been blessed with intelligence to invent and produce many wonderful things. Before mass producing products that we can’t properly dispose of, let us ask if we should, rather than if we can. Do we really need disposable plastic bottles for everyday use? They’re a convenience, but is the long-term damage to our planet worth it? Of course, this is just one example in thousands. But we’ve become so accustomed to such conveniences that we forget that we really can do without them or use them on a limited basis.
At our very core, we each desire to achieve happiness in our lives. Let us redefine what makes us happy. Perhaps the small and simple things offer answers. In my opinion, the closer we draw to God’s creations, the happier we become. Let’s embrace those blessings and show our children, especially those who have special needs, this never-ending source of happiness. They need to know how to find and make their own happiness. Our precious planet has many of the answers.
What will your family do to observe Earth Day?