In concordance with Lindsay’s posting of her Moral Ground Essay, I have decided to post the essay and poem that I wrote for this project.
We cannot snuff out something eternal – we can only snuff out ourselves.
This earth is a tragic picture of the natural world trying to subsist in the midst of all that should not be. I feel a deep grief for the animals, plants, and soil as they try to carry out their life course despite the destruction we have inflicted upon their air, land, species, and ancestors. It is not enough for us to “live green” – our footprint is already far too large for this to be the sole solution. In order to heal and ask forgiveness for what has already been lost, we have to introspect. We have to search for what exists inside of our human hearts that caused us to fall under the impression that we can live apart from nature or, better yet, exploit it. The idea of wreaking havoc on mother earth for our own advance or gain is a complete oxymoron, for one cannot benefit without the other as it is all one thing. It is because of the trees that we have breath. Without nature, we could not survive and until we learn that, we cannot hope for change.
Despite our efforts to cast aside the environment and fill our lives instead with meaningless human-made “advances,” it will not allow us to forget. Our mother pleads with us through cloudy and rain-heavy eyes. She stretches her grassy fingers through sidewalk cracks and blows her breath upon us with the intention of either soothing or chilling us. All this is to say, “You are suffocating me. You have laid your streets over my back and carrying you is heavy. You have withered me with your chemicals, you have uprooted me with your machines in order to create what you think are better things. You have wrought me for selfish purposes, but I will not be disregarded. I will continue to grow and destroy what you have built in my place.” Nature harbors a spirit of forgiveness, but only if we are willing to atone. If we do not listen to the stillness and the pleading in her voice and her breath, she will find another way to reach us.
Our grand flaw is that we look at nature as a dead thing. We are so distracted by our seemingly important “lives” that we forget to watch the world move. Our planet is in a constant state of song and dance. We cannot deny that the flowing river and the sapling are just as alive as we are – maybe even more so. Although the world grieves over our negligence and our unwillingness to participate in this symphony of being, it is our loss, for she will keep moving even when we stop. Death is nothing in the eyes of the ancient earth, for she remembers all. She and Time walked across the sun together and began their existence hand in hand. From the earth’s perspective, we are only passing through. We were born out of the dust of her soil and will one day return to her arms in the same form. To the earth, our death is beneficial, for it will allow other things to grow and have life.
So, earth, on behalf of humankind, I would like to say sorry. If God had made you for us to take from, then we wouldn’t have been created out of your flesh. We are an integral part of your life force and our refusal to work with you has caused much damage and chaos. You have tried to reach us in countless ways, but our uninviting closed doors and air-conditioned offices haven’t allowed us to hear your pleas and feel your breath. We have fostered a relationship with you based on taking all you have to offer and this has caused you to grow weary and tired. Even after all of this, you still allow us to walk along the ridges of your shoulders and experience the miracles of the sunrise and sunset, yet we still take for granted the way the sun faithfully wakes to illuminate your skin in the morning and lowers to kiss you goodnight. We have all but lost every intrinsic connection we have to you but we assume you will remain as you are. We have taken you for granted to the point of destruction and for that, I am eternally sorry. While we may not remember our history with an accuracy sufficient to prevent us from repeating it, you keep an account. The trees have memoires chronicled in their rings, for they have seen the world grow and change around them as they have grown and changed, becoming older and increasingly full of wisdom. It might do us some good to listen to their stories. You were around before us and you will be here when we die, but unless we discontinue our pattern of setting you ablaze, our children may be part of a different narrative.
What is of the Earth Will Inevitably Return to it
The earth has a beautiful way
Of returning to itself that which we take from it.
Even glass, in its shielding permanence,
Melts away in time.
Gravity calls back what belongs to it –
The sagging skin of our aged bodies
Is reclaimed by the dirt from which it was made –
Our frail and brittle bones
Whisked away into dust,
Our eyes float back up
Among the stars they were born out of.
Decay is an intrinsic part of the very life force that surrounds us,
Weathering what we have created
Until it is beyond repair.
We can work on upkeep
As long and as hard as we want,
But inevitably this earth outlives us
And our creation.
Our buildings crumble down to soil,
Our machinery succumbs to rust.
Everything we have made
And everything we are made of
Comes from the earth, who –
Jealous as she is –
Wants her body back in completion.