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Committee to Offer Readers Reflections and Green Steps by Dorothy Hathway, CSJA
In his final book before his death in 1996, Carl Sagan wrote: "...Our planet is indivisible. In North America, we breathe oxygen generated in the Brazilian rain forest. Acid rain from polluting industries in the American Midwest destroys Canadian forests ... the burning of coal in China warms Argentina. Diseases rapidly spread from the farthest reaches of the planet and require a global medical effort to be eradicated ... If we are not graced with an instinctive knowledge of how to make our technologized world a safe and balanced ecosystem, we must figure out how to do it. It is up to us. It should not be impossibly difficult. Birds, whose intelligence we tend to malign, know not to foul the nest. Shrimps with brains the size of lint particles know it. Algae know it. One-celled micro-organisms know it. It is time for us to know it too."
Perhaps Dr. Sagan's statements sting our consciences, but we can take some solace in, that at the time he wrote them, many people were peacefully oblivious to the serious challenges we are now facing. Science, by its nature, has almost always seen the dangers that lie ahead before we do. Responsible, expert prophetic voices are needed now more than ever.
For us, we need to look and listen, especially at this time of year when the Earth is bursting with new life. The freshness of flowers, the first fruits of the season, and the delicious vegetables that brighten our tables nourish both our bodies and our souls. This beautiful summer season rewards us with a look at nature at her finest.
The seasons which follow during the course of the year will also bring their own, unique, beauty. And they will offer us some ecological challenges. People who live close to the Earth understand this, and they instinctively cooperate with her needs throughout the year.
In the spring, where I live, dairy farmers clean their barn and spread this natural compost and fertilizer on the fields. Plants that might be cut as weeds elsewhere are allowed to grow, and the insects that will soon pollinate their fruit trees feast on their nectar. In cities and suburbs, choices often need to be made (Are "weeds" allowed to grow or are they killed in a quest to achieve a commercialized "standard of excellence" for a beautiful but sterile lawn.
Thoughtful people ask, "Isn't God's plan for the natural world good enough"?
In the fall, many farmers leave a stand of corn for deer to feed upon during the winter. Some people leave brush piles for rabbits' shelter from the winter winds and cold, and many villages and towns spread only sand on their roads, understanding that salt will damage the ecosystems at road's edge and potentially harm nearby ponds and wildlife. Trees are violated by salt; growth is stunted and some die. We understand that we need trees for their countless gifts to us; the oxygen they give to the air, their beauty, their fruits, the shade they provide as a respite from hot pavement, their wood that keeps families warm in the winter. The list is long. They ask for nothing in return. Our Creator has been good to us.
This coming year, Home/Land will be offering our readers some reflections and some practical "Green Steps" for inspiration, information, and support in our efforts to keep our Earth safe and beautiful. We hope that you will enjoy and learn from them. We are confident that as we work together and reach out to others, progress will continue.