Others have gone before us who protected Grandmother Earth and did not poison her land, air and waters.
Others have gone before us who respected Grandmother Earth and all of her birds, fish and animals, people who, to feed themselves, took these creatures’ lives with deepest reverence and a sense of gratitude for having food today.
Others have gone before us who treasured Grandmother Earth, not for her gold and silver or black diamond coal or oil that we plunder, but for her ability to sustain us. Knowing this, they humbly took only what they needed to sustain themselves.
Others have gone before us who valued a personal relationship with Grandmother Earth, and did not rush along in such busy lives, too busy to stop to warm their hearts in the glow of a red-orange sunset and let its light wash over their uplifted faces.
Others have gone before us who honored Grandmother Earth in their prayers and sacrificial ceremonies, not worshiping in the church of materialism but in the cathedral of our forests, and on our plains and grasslands, embracing the sky.
Others have gone before us who felt responsible to sustain Grandmother Earth as they would care for their own grandmothers and cherish their own children.
What has our world become? We have created a way of life dependent upon the manufacture of toxins that we spray or scatter or dump on our land, and pour into our air and our water. We eat and breathe these poisons every day and consider it the cost of the modern life we have come to value.
We raise animals in the cruelest conditions, turning a blind eye to their sadistic treatment to put beef, pork, chicken and eggs on our tables.
We push down mountaintops to mine coal for electricity and we clear-cut forests destroying the homes of wild creatures and even of native peoples, all to support our own comfortable way of life.
Many of us live in cities and suburbs, far removed from the pulse of nature and so we feel totally separate and detached from such blessings as smelling the soil when it rains, seeing the stars at night. Feeling disconnected from Grandmother Earth, we feel indifferent to her destruction.
Our greed and materialism to acquire more, always more, are self-destructive addictions. And to hell with whomever we hurt with our arrogant attitude and our actions of bottomless consumption.
How long can we keep walking this path before Grandmother Earth is ruined? Or Mother Nature pays us back?
Why do we think we are the Masters of the Earth and that we are entitled to exploit and plunder her bounty for our own benefit and to hell with Grandmother Earth’s other creatures, her streams and rivers and wetlands, her air?
Less than 500 years ago, man believed the Earth was the center of the Universe. Today, he believes he is the center of the universe. After Copernicus and Galileo rewrote cosmology, establishing the sun as the center of our little space in the universe, people at first were outraged. Only slowly did we change our old beliefs. Today, every schoolchild knows that we revolve around the sun, and that there are many suns and many galaxies.
New thinkers (hearkening back to the beliefs of the ancients) are talking of another new cosmology. They ask us to know that man—that we—are not the center of the universe or masters of earth, that we are part of the sacred whole, that the universe is not a “collection of objects but a communion of subjects,” that the earth is not an “it” but a living, breathing, spiritual gift. Others have gone before us who knew what we have forgotten.
Others will come after us, but what will they inherit? What kind of planet will we leave behind?
[J.C.B. Huggard lives on a dead end dirt road in Dyberry Township, PA with black bears, wild turkeys and other country creatures.]