Long, long ago a Nigerian chieftain told his tribesmen: “I conceive that the land (read “earth”) belongs to a vast family of which many are dead, few are living, and countless numbers are still unborn.” Expressing a similar sentiment, a Native American proverb goes this way: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
We are most inhuman in dealing with our mother earth and yet we take pride in calling ourselves human beings. We plunder her natural resources as if there is no tomorrow. We pollute her land, water and air as if it has nothing to do with us. In our eternal greed, we tend to imagine that we own the earth and that it is okay to use up all the resources while we can even if that means overdrawing some of them.
This philosophy must change. We must change our attitude towards mother earth. We must be more considerate towards her. Not so much because it is going to help her but because it is going to do us a lot of good and also to our coming generations.
These words of ancient wisdom should set us thinking. These words must convince us beyond doubt that we do not own this earth…that we have merely borrowed it from our children. And, take a look at this Indian proverb: “Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.” That is madness and we are at it!
Voicing his concern over extensive pollution, Henry David Thoreau elucidated: “Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.” But, sadly, man has learned to fly with the help of flying machines and spaceships and is happily polluting the earth as well as the space. Robert Orben takes a dig at air pollution when he says: “There is so much pollution in the air now that if it weren’t for our lungs there’d be no place to put it all.”
Pained at indiscriminate tree-felling, Bill Vaughn remarked: “Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then, names the streets after them.” Tom McMillan made an interesting observation when he said: “For 200 years we’ve been conquering Nature. Now we’re beating it to death.”
At a nature spot in Baltimore, there was a message for visitors. It said: “Take nothing but pictures; leave nothing but footprints; kill nothing but time.” I cannot stop admiring whoever it was that came up with this motto.
But remember one thing: no alien will come from outer space to save the earth. Like Marshall McLuhan said: “There are no passengers on Spaceship Earth. We are all crew.”
Darryl Cherney of Smithsonian clarified further when he said: “I am not an environmentalist. I’m an Earth warrior.” That is the spirit with which we must fight to save the Earth from destruction.
Let this be our firm resolve and commitment on this Earth Day. But, let us not forget our resolve after we celebrate the Earth Day today. Let us remember the anonymous quote: “Every day is Earth Day.”
Let us vow on this Earth Day that we will replenish the Earth for everything that we take from her; that we will clean up all the pollutants that we spread across the earth and ensure that whatever we have taken on loan from mother Earth is repaid before we depart from this Earth so that we may return to the generations to come what we have borrowed from them.