A year ago, I started writing this blog to encourage readers to see their yards and spaces as sites to connect with the natural world. Rather than visit a park to experience Nature, we can experience Nature at our fingertips. With this connection comes the understanding that we are Nature. Once we let go of all the misconceptions that set us apart from the natural world, we will fall into step with the unfolding universe and see the path out of the environmental crises we have collectively created.
The best way to connect is by fully experiencing that which sustains us: the soil, the air, the water, the energy from our star and all of life that inhabits and surrounds us. We are an integral part of the universe, not just this planet. Our connection extends back to the beginnings of the universe and will continue ad infinitum.
Every atom that makes up our body is composed of subatomic particles that have been around for eons and perhaps forever. We are physically made up of atoms forged inside stars that exploded several billion years ago and scattered their bits into interstellar space where some of the bits merged into our sun, the planets, our home planet with its rocks, water, atmosphere, primitive lifeforms and eventually us. Any which way you shake it, we are one with everything there is, was and ever will be. Our current form is simply a manifestation of the universal energy that created all of this. Until we fully grasp this and abandon any delusions about superiority and control, we will continue to create endless problems for ourselves and our fellow creatures.
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As I was writing my first blog in the latter part of October 2019, a coronavirus had likely already made the leap from a wild animal to an unsuspecting human on the opposite side of the planet. This incredibly small lifeform has brought humanity to its knees in a matter of a few months.
Every living thing does everything it can to survive. Viruses need hosts. If its host is endangered due to loss of habitat, it is only natural for the virus to take a chance with a more successful host. As mammals that have seriously disrupted the habitats of others by outright destruction and more subtly through climate change and pollution, humans can easily fit the role of new host as more and more species within the mammal group are threatened with extinction. It is a reminder to us not to encroach on wildlife spaces and to do whatever we can to accommodate our fellow species by providing and protecting habitat. Rather than imposing our will on fellow creatures, we best see ourselves as unbiased observers and stewards.
The pandemic has forced us to take a closer look at how we fit into the greater picture. As more and more people come out of this with a greater understanding of place within the natural order, there is hope for humanity. Natural balances will be slowly restored if we actively get involved in the healing process. We owe it to the young generation to start now.
As a senior citizen, I feel a great responsibility to do whatever I can to promote living in harmony with the natural world. How can we expect the children of today and future generations to pick through the mess we’ve left behind and live a full and healthy life?
The legacy of my generation must be one that sets a new course for humanity. All along, the so-called “Baby Boomers” have had the knowledge, education and resources to make the shift, but complacency won out. When I went to university in the ‘70’s, there was already a lot of discussion regarding climate change, pollution, habitat destruction and impending ecological disasters. We knew that humanity was on the wrong course but we continued to embrace the ill-conceived “good life”.
Sadly, I get regular e-mails from my high school graduating class of ’69 advising of the passing of another one of our class mates. However, I would also like to hear of what the group has been doing to make up for lost time and opportunity. Too old is not an excuse. “Baby Boomers” can have an impact like never before as we make up a large percentage of the population and can wield immense collective power to help smooth out the path for our grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Contributions of seniors can be as simple as investing time and resources into planting a food garden for the whole family, preserving food for the winter and naturalizing an area for wildlife. Above all, we need to involve the children, show them how and openly discuss where we have gone wrong and what we can do to mitigate the problems we have created. When I hear and see hopelessness in our youth, I know we need to pay attention and do whatever we can to address the issues full on.
The pandemic has given us pause for reflection. Let’s use this time wisely as we move forward, providing support wherever we can, jumping in, not as the “older and wiser” but as those who knew better and will now do what we can to facilitate the change necessary to move humanity onto a more sustainable path.
Rather than lamenting our mistakes and wishing our children and grandchildren the best, let’s seize the moment and offer the presence, hope, courage and resources today’s children need as they face an uncertain future.