By Nancy De La Vierra
I am flying now, breathlessly accelerating away from the Earth. I feel no cold, just an indescribable impression of urgency. I am now far out in space, seeing our planet with an astronaut's view. Something is very wrong. I feel a sense of wonder and sadness as I realize our Earth is crying, disconsolately. She begins to show me how She is dying and how She is hurting. I awaken filled with dread, my heart beating furiously.
The previous is a dream I've had reoccurring for many years. It varies little and always leaves me with the same feeling of sorrow for days.
I thought it appropriate that I put pen to paper on this subject on Earth Day 1992. I felt (perhaps presumptively) that students of astrology may be keenly interested as well in the state of our own planet. [It is worthwhile noting that Earth Day falls on April 22 of each year at the beginning of the sign Taurus—the first earth sign of the zodiac—and that some researchers feel that Persephone (a planet beyond Pluto so far undiscovered but mathematically located), representing the principle of rebirth of Nature and recycling, is the true or higher ruler of Taurus.]
Recently, on a train trip from NYC to Washington D.C., I was dismayed to see the endless piles of garbage heaped within view. The detritus of snack foods, aluminum cans and plastic littered the ground everywhere. Even the still bare trees limbs were scattered with bits and pieces of 20th century junk.
My Northwestern naiveté was further disturbed when I returned a coke can to the dining car. I inquired of the waiter as to where the recycling bin for such was located. I was met with an incredulous countenance. He indicated the overflowing garbage receptacle. His English being somewhat limited (although it was his native tongue), I slowly explained that I didn't wish to throw it away, asking again: "Where is the recycling bin?!" He looked at me as though I had turnips growing out of my head and replied that it was too much trouble and was not worth it. His apathy incensed me, but I knew my indignation would be lost on him, so I reluctantly added my can to the burgeoning pile.
A non-profit research center in Durham, NC, recently ranked all 50 states for environmental conditions. I was pleased but not surprised that my home state of Oregon placed number one. Even so, our state has a variety of challenges. Since my youth in rural Oregon, I've seen the power of the dollar destroy most of our remaining old growth forests.
Our planet has been attempting to speak to us in many languages with many voices. Scientists have found alarming genetic and biological permutations in fish living in the toxic Great Lakes. In the summer of 1987, over 750 dead and dying dolphins appeared on the Atlantic coastline. In the following two years, four similar incidents occurred in Northwestern Florida, followed by 30 deaths in a Texas bay. Local fishermen in Texas and Alabama reported seeing floundering dolphins plagued by a mysterious fungal growth that covered them in brown slime. Overgrazing throughout public lands in the U.S. has helped put some areas in a state of desertification. Once fertile, these lands are dry, arid wastelands. Biologists and botanists maintain that thousands of species of plants and animals will become extinct before we can even discover them. Their voices are desperate whispers that land on dispassionate ears.
The following is a passage remembered from a long ago Sunday school class, Job 12:8.
"Go and ask the cattle,
ask the birds of the air to inform you,
or tell the creatures that crawl to teach you,
and the fishes of the sea to give you instruction."
Most people are at least hazily acquainted with the story of Job. If nothing else, the often quoted "having the patience of Job" strikes a chord. On a fundamental level, it is the passionate telling of an honorable man's journey through unbridled torment and ignominy delivered at the hands of Satan and allowed by God. Satan contends that Job is only virtuous because of all the blessings God has favored upon him. Take them away and he will curse you. God maintains that Job would serve him faithfully regardless of his situation and allows Satan to pummel him with loss and disease. God simply removes his grace and protection.
Ruminating over the seemingly hopeless situation of Earth's environment, I was reminded of the story of Job. Metaphorically, one could compare the Earth to Job. Our Earth, endlessly faithful and constantly revolving in its orbit, continues throughout the millenniums to feed and nurture Her ever increasing inhabitants. The Sun has in ancient times inspired humanity and been worshipped by many cultures. For this analogy, it could represent God.
When Satan approached God regarding the matter of Job, God questioned him. "Where did you come from?" Then Satan answered Yahweh: "From roaming the earth, and strolling about in it.…" How like man was he! Allowed by the All Powerful to savagely attack the faithful servant (Earth) seeking to blast him (Job) into proving his point, by cursing God and dying. Ozone depletion and its frightening consequences represent God's removing his protective hand.
Beset by man-wrought pestilence, our universal Mother persists in her constancy, but begins to stumble. I believe if actions are not swiftly taken to protect the habitats of other life forms—to clean up the fouled air, polluted rivers and oceans—we will experience something of perhaps another Bible narrative, Revelation: "But I have this against you: you have lost your early love. Think from what a height you have fallen; repent, and do as you once did. Otherwise, if you do not repent, I shall come to you and remove your lamp [our sun?] from its place.… And there was a violent earthquake; the sun turned black as a funeral pall and the moon all red as blood; the stars in the sky fell to the earth, like figs shaken down by a gale; the sky vanished, as a scroll is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place, then the kings of the earth…all men, slave or free, hid themselves in caves.…"
The noted British novelist, John Fowles, put it this way, "I am glad there is no god. If there were, I cannot imagine that we rampant, myopic, and insatiably self-centered creatures should survive a single day more."
Unless humanity can learn quickly that living on this planet is a rare privilege rather than an opportunity to exploit and manipulate, we face a grim future. We need to become activists, each and every one of us. We must become involved in methods that challenge us to restore health and security to our planet. Margaret Mead was once asked: "Can a group of individuals, if dedicated and aware, really make a difference?" She replied: "It's the only thing that ever has made a difference." To those who would in the face of vanishing species and forests claim that man is more important and his needs (jobs and resources) take precedence, I would ask: What about the next generation? After we have destroyed all that is beautiful and replenishing (old growth timber stands, rainforests, natural wetlands, etc.), how will you answer your grandchildren? It would follow that if we must behave in a "me first" manner, isn't protecting our home and all that is in it a prudent course of action? Never was the sixties mantra "Love Your Mother" ever more timely. We must realize that forests, oceans, rivers, animals and the very air itself are not here for us, but with us in a marvelous symmetry.
It is unconscionable that our President—at this writing—is undecided on whether or not he will attend the upcoming Earth summit. So much for the "Environmental President."
To feel disempowered and impotent within this avalanche of worsening environmental conditions is natural. But there are steps every individual (to borrow from Jerry Brown's campaign) can follow to "Take It Back." If there is not a recycling program in your area, send a postcard to the Environmental Defense Fund for a free recycling action guide. The address is EDF-Recycling, 257 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10010. Get involved, write your congressional representative. We need to analyze our actions, collectively and individually, to determine the environmental ramifications.
As lifelong whale researcher Roger Payne suggests asking ourselves: "Will what I'm doing diminish the ability of the environmental to support life? And if so, don't do it." Choose an environmental organization; there are many and they desperately need your support. Any donation, regardless of size, will be meaningful. We can all make a difference!
© 1992 and 2018 by Nancy de la Vierra. All rights reserved.