April 9, 2010: 40th anniversary reminds us to be at peace with Mother Earth, by Sister Janet Lander

April 9, 2010 by

For 40 years now — since the first Earth Day in 1970 — we have had an annual reminder to live nonviolently with our Earth.

In the Concordia Year of Peace we have been striving for growth in nonviolent living skills and attitudes toward one another. This month, and the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, give us the opportunity to extend our loving regard and reverent action toward Earth, as well.

Though Earth could survive quite nicely without humans, we humans are totally dependent on the health and well-being of our planet. We are truly earthlings. We find our life embedded in the living systems of Earth.

Indeed, Earth is our mother. She is lamenting our way of living, if we have ears to hear. She is lamenting not only for her sake but for all creatures, and yes, for us. She is lamenting ongoing human violence against the web of life:

“I thirst!” she cries. “By the year 2025, at least 48 countries will face water scarcity conditions. The World Water Council reports that 1.1 billion people are currently living without safe drinking water, and still another 2.6 billion do not have adequate sanitation. What does and will this mean for our crops, our health and our international relations?”

“I am hungry!” Earth moans. “Developed nations feed more grain to their livestock than one-third of the human race eats directly.  If these people just reduced meat consumption 10 percent there would be enough unused grain to feed 60 million of the world’s hungry.”

“I am ill,” Earth warns, “and so are you! Did you know that the food with the highest level of contaminants is mother’s milk? What you put into my body, you put into your own.”

“I am naked!” Earth complains. “An average of 120,000 trees are cut down hourly in the Amazon alone. Only 4 percent of the original forests are left in the United States.”

“I suffer violence!” Earth wails. “I am scarred by excessive extraction of ores and minerals, while my wetlands are being drained. Habitats are being lost, and almost 17,000 species of plants and animals are endangered, including one in four mammals, one in eight birds and one in three amphibians. Three-quarters of the fisheries are fished at or beyond capacity for self-renewal.”

Nonviolence is not passive. It says a clear “no” to violence in any form, which is the “yes” of compassion to the cries of any who are suffering. May we be mindful, at least this month, of the “R’s” of Right Relationship with Earth:

  • Reverence flowing from reflection;
  • Respectful responsiveness to suffering wherever we see it in creation;
  • Refrain from consumerism by repair and reusing what we have;
  • Recycle;
  • Reduce energy consumption and polluting activities: our carbon footprint;
  • Restore balance in our lives.

In the healing of Mother Earth, may we find ourselves healed as well.

— Sister Janet Lander is on the staff of Manna House of Prayer and is a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee.


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