Okay, everybody sing along to the tune of Happy Birthday: “Happy earthday to you! Happy earthday to you! Happy earth day every- body — (Hold this note) — regardless of kingdom, phyla, class, order, family, genus or species — regardless of color of skin, fur, feathers, scales, leaves or bark — (Resume singing) — Happy earthday to you!” And this is Scoop here with the real nitty-gritty and the dirty low down.
And yes, the earth gave birth to all of us: the microbes and the macrobes, the ferns, frogs, fish, finches, four-leggeds, you and me and we are all together. And earthday is everybody’s mother’s day.
And the earth continues to suckle us all, with air and water, food and shelter. And even though we are spinning through space at many thousand of miles an hour, we don’t even have to hold on — because the earth is holding on to us with her strong arms of gravity. She is the ground of our being, our rock of ages.
But we humans seem to be out of touch with our mother (we haven’t called home for a while). Maybe that’s because we stood upright and lifted our heads too far from the ground, fostering the belief that we are above it all. Meanwhile, our major religions have come to regard the earth as just a training planet – a place where you come to learn some lessons or burn off some karma, and then you go off to your true home somewhere else.
But those beliefs are dysfunctional, because they take our reverence away from the home planet, and remove humans from the great web of life.
So on this earthday we want to give a big shout out to uncle Charlie Darwin, who started to spin us a new story about who we are and where we came from – and as Sir Charles wrote in the last paragraph of his book The Origin of Species, “There is a simple grandeur in this view of life…in which endless forms, most beautiful and wonderful have been evolved.” And that includes you and me, beautiful and wonderful “earthlings”– born out of the 3 and a half billion year old drama of life on this planet – a story that contains as much awe and wonder as any bible. To paraphrase cosmologist Brian Swimme: “Only 4 billion years ago the earth was a ball of molten rock, and now it can play the guitar.”
So here we are on earthday 2015, playing the guitar in the holocene, my scene and your scene, living through a nice mild interglacial period. But when people say, “It’s a beautiful day” there is a growing menace that comes with those words. And yes, the bio-hazards are now in the house, with temperatures rising faster than expected, endangered species increasing, a looming water crisis, and so much trouble everywhere that the very word ecology can make you scream… “ekkkkk- ology!!!”
And what is required of us if we are going to heal the mess we have been making is not just recycling and driving hybrid cars. It’s about a change in consciousness; it is about embracing the story of evolution as our new creation myth, and then making ritual around it, singing and dancing it, bringing it alive in the corridors of our psyche and the marrow of our bones.
Speaking of bones, my earthling friends, our bones are made out of phosphates, silicates, carbon — the actual clay of earth molded into this human shape. And most of our bodies are liquid, and most of that liquid has the chemical consistency of the oceans. We literally sweat and cry seawater. We are not only on the earth, we are of the earth; made of all natural earth ingredients. We are certified organic.
And in the story of evolution, we find that we are related to every being that ever lived, through the miracle molecules of DNA, which carry the instruction manual for every form of life on this planet. So we are all cell brothers, and cell sisters. Can you dig it? And as the “t” shirt from the U.C. Santa Cruz biology department reads, “You share 25% of your DNA with bananas. Get over yourself!”
The good news is that once we start to see ourselves in the story of evolution, we will find reason for hope. First of all we see that nature is one tough mother, and that life on earth has so far survived comet collisions, continents bumping into one another, ice ages, the plague, and even Henry Kissinger, so there is reason for optimism.
I also find hope by remembering that the word “ecology” has only been in common use for about 40 years or so – and that the first U.N. conference on the environment only took place in 1970, a blink of an eye ago in biological time. We are just now waking up to our impact on the life of the planet, and just now learning how we have to change our story — and our way of living.
It turns out that what the earth needs most from humans right now is a few years of “negative” economic growth. From the perspective of Mother Nature we don’t need a stimulus package — we need a sedative package. Homo sapiens sure could use a little down time, giving our hearts and minds a chance to catch up with our brilliant tool making ability.
And so I ask you on this earthday, to at least take a vow that you will do something more to help heal and protect your mother. As an American on earthday you could try consuming about a third less of everything than you normally do. Or you could go picket in front of the oil company of your choice; or go out into the ocean and take a swim in the primal amniotic fluid. And while you are out there maybe tie yourself to an endangered coral reef, or play some soothing music for the fish that must be very confused lately due to the changing temperature of the ocean water.
No matter what you chose to do, at some point in your earthday celebration, or your any day earth celebration, take off your shoes and dance on the ground, touching your mother skin to skin. Or just lay down flat, ignore your inner cynic, and give your mama a great big hug. As always, she will kiss you and forgive you, and welcome you home.
And this is Scoop saying, “All praises to the earth. Long may she spin.” And as always, if you don’t like the news go out and make some of your own.