Friday, April 25, 2008

There is No Room for Ego Here

Alternate Title: Why We Need a Global Earth Day
This posting continues the comments thread from my April 22nd posting about Earth Day... (Thank you Esther for your provocative insight on my posting)

I have been told that non-Americans would find it hypocritical if Americans pushed Earth Day on the rest of the world. But to preserve nature and save our environment we must unite globally. The biggest offenders of polluting the earth must be brought into the fold somehow. I think a global Earth Day is one way to help achieve unity.

We will come against opposition as we already have over and over again. Many say that you have come together and not "everyone is on board." Throwing hands up in disgust or finger pointing will never solve anything. I think it was famed author Sylvia Boorstein who reminded us that we would not hit our friend if she turned on us. We would try to calm that friend, seek to understand her and try to help her see our way. We should see our fellow man as "friend" and treat disagreements with the same sense of compassion for all humanity.

Nature reminds us to unite with our fellow humans, recognizing that all of humanity has a similar basic interest -- to exist without suffering. When I am physically close to nature, it helps me realize that I am a small part of a whole intricate existence. It does not matter that I am an American. Ethnocentricity has no place here. It does not matter how much money I make or what my religion is. My personal preferences are unimportant. We are all the same on the very inside. No one person is better than any other. We are all part of the natural world and need it to be a healthy place for our very own survival. Keeping this in mind, I recognize it as my responsibility to help preserve the natural world to help sustain humanity and all living things. I can only do my part and perhaps gently help others recognize their role too. (Of course, this is my ideal. I try to be open-minded, but often forget this ideal and form prejudices. But this is what I strive to remember at all times.)

I understand if you don't want to sit around in a circle, holding the hands of strangers with love beads around your neck...I'm too cynical for that myself. But please make an effort to open your mind to the fact that you have something in common with those different from you. Perhaps you can spread your view by gently explaining it, bonding with other like minded citizens to convince those who seem like adversaries. I often give up trying to explain something, only to come back to the subject when the time is right. For Americans, the time is right now. There are many who are willing to listen about the environmental cause. Holding past gripes and pointing fingers about unsigned treaties and ill-practices will not win hearts. And this issue is too important to give up on convincing others.

Not everyone has my same point of view on many issues that are important to me. It is sometimes hard to come to terms with this. We often see ourselves as better than others because of the labels we've given ourselves or because of gross generalizations about people who appear different than we are. We seek to blame others. We seek to fight with others. We seek to impose our way. Governments can hinder movement in a positive direction. Citizens might be apathetic. The only important truth is that we are all part of nature and we can only survive by relying on each other. We must find a way to work with others to acknowledge our interdependence.

I have found one "theory" helpful. In Buddhism, the ego is something to be dispelled. Buddhism emphasizes the harmony of all living things together forming a whole. Since I am not a Buddhist teacher, it will be hard for me to explain this...but the mission of a Buddhist is to let go of the ego, to understand that whatever we feel or believe is just a perception and not reality. Our selves are only shells housing a spiritual essence or an energy. This energy seeks to be united with the universe and this state can be attained through enlightenment. I like the idea of this positive energy that helps make the universe go around.

The more positive energy we emit, the more we can affect others. Think about when you are happy. The mood often spreads to those around you. If you are unhappy, someone who offers you a little cheer can lift up your own mood. If you have a good idea, you win more people over with a positive push. As a mother, I am sensitive to the fact that convincing my daughter that my idea is hers is more likely to make her act. To get my daughter moving this morning I chose this tact: "Honey, remember the deer we saw in the woods last time. Wasn't he cool? Do you think he might be in the woods again on a beautiful day like today? Shall we go see?" I knew it would work better than: "Honey, we're going for a walk. Mommy could use the exercise and you can too!"

In the garden, I can see my connection to nature, all living-beings, and this unique energy more clearly than I understand it anywhere else. I think anyone who is introduced to gardening and induced to take part would feel it too. But it doesn't really matter how one is introduced to the concepts of caring for the environment. Perhaps you are moved by a nature television show. Perhaps getting your hands in the dirt tickles your fancy. Perhaps a highway strip of wildflowers wakes you up to nature's presence as your drive into work. Perhaps a large scale celebration such as Earth Day opens your mind. No matter what the thing that helps you shed your ego and recognize the magnificent importance of nature, kudos if you have gotten there. If some of us can step outside and smell the fresh air to understand their connection to nature, great! Others may need fireworks and rock bands singing about nature's beauty in an Earth Day celebration. We must all respect that if we are to save this earth and ourselves. There is no room for ego here. We must recognize our interconnectedness and our interdependence.

Do we have time to influence others through patience? Perhaps not, but we also may not have a choice. The Dalai Lama has already waited 50 years to help the Tibetans. Through non-violence, love, patience and compassion, it seems he has convinced the world of the righteousness of the cause of the Tibetan people. Fighting, arguing, holding grudges and prejudices won't change hearts in the long run. What we need today is long-term change. We need to offer realistic alternatives to what is an ingrained way of thinking for many. The proliferation of renewable energies, organic food, and natural cleaners in the United States is a positive sign. Political action groups, National Public radio programs discussing the environment, and documentaries about global warming are furthering the dialogue. Join the dialogues and get the positive energy growing. There is no room for ego here, but there is room for you to share what you know in a compassionate way to further the cause.

A global earth day that acknowledges what different countries do to assist the environment, shares knowledge about sound environmental practices, and presents facts has a place now in America now. "Every day is Earth day," but one special day to emphasize it can only move us in a positive direction.

1 comment:

Esther Montgomery said...

I'm looking forward to hearing what other people think of your post.

I can hear your shouting all the way across the Atlantic!