Your parents may have been hippies – but they made a difference

April 22nd is Earth day and you can thank your family for that the next time you sit down for dinner.  Why, well it wasn’t that long ago America was really sucking on an environmental basis. So a while back a bunch of hippies decided to get together and have a celebration of the place we live, this planet that well call home.  Whippie!!!

But no, really. This is a big deal and those hippies, well they were your parents or grandparents.  Why?  Well what you probably don’t realize is that in America the place was beginning to look like a landfill.  After WWII, the government went through a process to downsize.  One of the bureaucracies that were cut from the picture was a national recycling program.  Many of your grandparents probably still remember what it was like to take newspapers, soda bottles, aluminum and all kinds of items and turn them in, many times for money.  This is how they got to buy dollies and baseball gloves when they were children.  They worked for it because their parents taught them how important it was to tend to the things we had like beautiful land and clean water and healthy food that was grown so locally that much of the time you could walk outside in your bare feet and pick it.

These values are the kind that have (ideally) come down from generation to generation.  Unfortunately, in any society, this is only a representative of a portion of the population.  Corporations were still corporations and without regulatory oversight it doesn’t make sense to be responsible to the planet at the expense of the bottom line.  It’s the kind of attitude that says, if I’m not told something is wrong – it must not be wrong for me to do.  And devastation was laid out on the countryside.   Eventually,  major city beaches were being closed due to pollution, waterways caught fire due to chemical and oil spills and masses of animals were  mutating and dying from unnatural changes to their environment.

So our parents, and grandparents, they did something about it.  Earth day rallies, like those of civil rights and women’s suffrage actually did make an impact.  The disasters that were befalling our country were visible to the naked eye and people cared about it.  They thought about you and me and our children.  They didn’t want to leave a legacy that was shameful, deadly and horrific.  So they took action.  They made cities build waste water treatment facilities, (before it often went from toilet to river to tap in the next town).   They banned chemicals like DDT and They cleaned up most of the messes they made.  They set rules into place that said, what we did was not ok – and nobody should be allowed to do this in the future.

And here we are in 2013.  While human waste is cleaned before entering the waterways, mass quantities of factory farm waste is not regulated.  Instead of filling our waterways with oil and chemicals we are loading them with a different chemical that is producing the same results in killing off biospheres of natural wildlife – plastic.  While air pollution standards have made visible skies in major cities a reality, we are now burning Tar Sands Oil- which is producing double the amount of carbon-dioxide standard crude oil emits.  And instead of boldly declaring the atrocities of big industry, news agencies are now owned, operated and invested in the entities they are supposed to be holding accountable.  This month the FAA declared an American NoFly Zone because an oil company (and the government) doesn’t want bad press to negatively impact infrastructure plans that are bad for our country.

So does Earth Day mean anything to you?  Will the sacrifices and values of those that wanted you to have a clean planet encourage you to make changes in your life, to stand in unison with one another over real issues and to hold big polluters accountable not just with the click of a mouse button but with real action? Please I encourage you to take the time to consider – what kind of life are we leaving behind and begin making simple changes like bringing your own bags to the grocery store, riding public transportation and more importantly write your representatives and hold them accountable to standing strong on issues that matter to you.

Most importantly, if you have children – on April 20th (Saturday) show them what Earth Day is about by spending time outdoors, learning about or doing something special, they will only learn what you pass on.

It’s Fat Tuesday – What are you doing for Lent?

So,  it’s Fat Tuesday.  Lent is right around the corner and many people are on social media talking about what they are going to give up for Lent.  Some of you may not understand the purpose of giving up something, ‘For Lent’.  While there are many different  ‘beliefs’ behind the Religious and Dogmatic essence of what Lent, and it’s physical precursor Mardi Gras, is all about, one thing is generally considered true, most people miss the point.   In my own words, I’d suggest that the Christian faith allows us to take a time to consider the trials and temptation of Jesus, and the sacrifice he made as the atonement of mankind’s sin.   Deviations from the spiritual concepts of Lent are clearly represented in the festivities of Mardi Gras, closing with Fat Tuesday – a specific example of the gluttony of human wastefulness.  For those that are come from a different culture, Lent started as a Christian memorial that generally covers 40 days (to represent the temptation of Jesus by Satin fora period of  40 days in the desert) and concludes with the celebration of Easter Sunday ( the resurrection of Jesus from the dead).  Many of the days themselves have been given semblances of historical value and others contain aspects of their historical value that has now been lost on the modern world.  For example, Fat Tuesday was a final day of gluttony and ‘fattening up’ because in the tradition of Lent, people would fast for 40 days and would need the extra fat in their systems to help them survive.

Regardless of your personal spiritual beliefs, you are probably aware of the concept of giving something up as a way to become more aware of your personal habits.  Every New Years we often make a commitment that we are going to do things differently.  Those who have a personal drive or spiritual commitment to making this kind of change are generally those who have the successes we all can admire.  They also have an accountability base to promote their own success.  This is why these things work, accountability. I think for those that practice the giving up something , or fasting,  for Lent the accountability is often more on a personal spiritual basis; with the support of family and friends as encouragement when times get tough.   Today I want to be your encourager.  Do you remember the first challenge I asked you to consider?  Yes, the one with two separate garbage cans one for recyclable materials and the other for trash… how’s that going?

What about Lent?  What will you be giving up?  Besides turning away from processed foods, I myself am going to attempt to give up 50% of the single use plastic I currently use.   By cutting out any plastic bottled beverage of any kind, and focusing my diet on whole, fresh fruits and vegetables (known as a Daniel fast).  I hope to allow two paths of my spiritual walk to combine.

Will you join me to ‘Cut The Plastic’ over Lent?’  I look forward to the conversation in the comments section!

http://www.theplasticfreetimes.com/news/13/02/11/plastic-free-lent-interview-gabriel-lamug-na%C3%B1awa

http://5gyres.org/posts/2013/02/12/fat_tuesday_equals_fat_plastic_in_new_orleans