Friday, June 1, 2012

Perhaps you've heard: A report just released reveals that the Earth "is heading to a temperature rise of at least 3.5 degrees Celsius, and likely more," a rise that will lead to "conditions not seen on the planet for 30 to 60 million years" (Climate Action Tracker). No government in the world has instituted the measures it had pledged to take in order to help prevent this.

Perhaps you've heard: At the damaged Fukishima Unit 4 nuclear power plant in Japan, a wall is bulging, and the building itself is leaning, deepening fears of an unimaginable nuclear catastrophe. As frequent earthquake tremors threaten the already fragile plant, toxic waste from the disaster of 14 months ago is washing up by the ton in North America, and radioactive fish are being caught off California. 

Perhaps you've heard: The "Gigaproject" of tar sands mining, called by many "the most destructive project on Earth," continues 24/7 in Alberta, Canada. Processing the tar sands uses enough natural gas in one day to heat 3 million homes. The toxic water resulting from the processing is stored in tailing ponds so large they can be seen from space. Shall I continue?

I won't. We've all heard these reports. The real question is, are we ready to admit the violence we are inflicting upon this planet, and take urgent steps to rectify it? We can't keep living in denial, if for no other reason than self-interest. To quote the farmer and writer Wendell Berry, "Land abuse cannot brighten the human prospect. There is in fact no distinction between the fate of the land and the fate of the people. When one is abused, the other suffers. The penalties may come quickly to a farmer who destroys perennial cover on a sloping field. They will come sooner or later to a land-destroying civilization such as ours."

We're capable of so much better, aren't we? I simply don't believe that we lack the collective wisdom, or the collective know-how, to treat the Earth with the care she deserves and requires. What we do lack is the will. 

The only way to generate the will, frankly, is to generate the will. To decide to do it, ourselves. We can't wait for our governments to save the planet (though their help would be much appreciated). We certainly can't wait for the corporations (most of which, while they might be "people," clearly have no conscience). And no, we can't wait for Mother Nature and Father Time to clean up the messes we've made--she's deathly ill, and he's keeping vigil. So no, it's up to us. You and me. To decide. And to do.

I invite you to watch the video below. You may well find yourself marveling, as I did, at the creativity, the engineering and the craftsmanship that went into its production. All that planning, all that effort, all that skill, all those resources invested for a three-minute--well, I'd better not spoil it. You'll see at the end of the video exactly what it is. 

My point is this: What if such human resources were immediately invested on a massive scale to change the way we relate to this planet? To end our destructive addiction to fossil fuels? To shift to a society thriving on safe forms of renewable energy? To learn how to appropriately manage and harvest the Earth's raw materials with a profound commitment to the welfare of future generations?

I believe that all this can be done. But it's up to us to see that it gets done.

That's why I'll be joining the Fast for the Earth, which launches August 1, 2012. The Fast will be a nonviolent protest against wanton disregard for the natural world, and as an affirmation that we are all part of that world, responsible for its careful tending. Originating here in little ol' Brookings, South Dakota (USA), the Fast may seem a small thing, but it's part of a big thing. Part of the whole, as a matter of fact. That's why we're inviting the entire world to participate.

Those of us who engage in the Fast--however we choose, whenever we choose, whether August 1 or after--will offer ourselves as witnesses to the Earth. Those of us who choose to fast by abstaining from food for a period of time will invest our bodies in humanity's struggle for a nonviolent relationship with the Earth. The Fast will mark our bodies with signs of Earth's suffering, yes, but also with signs of her cleansing and renewal. 

If you're inclined to join me in the Fast, sign up here. If you're not so inclined, please put your energies elsewhere on behalf of the planet. 

Just decide for the Earth, and do.

Note: If you can't see the video player below, click here to watch.

Deep peace,
Phyllis Cole-Dai

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