“Reject excess, honor nature.” – Gandhi
Essay on Gandhi’s quote By Christine Maccabee for ON THE WILD SIDE Jan.2016
Depending on your political, religious or philosophical positions, you may or may not read this essay. Some say it is too late to do anything, some say it is not necessary, and still others say “who cares?”, However, many do care, and care a lot. I am one who cares, and dares to write, so read this at your own risk.
If there ever was a time for all of us to make a difference for on-going quality of life on this our planet, it is now. Of course, I and many others had those very same thoughts way back in the 1970’s. Back then, plastics still had carcinogenic chemicals in them, (even baby bottles!) and industrial chemical wastes were dumped into water like Love Canal and other places, creating severe health problems for people and wildlife living near them. Acid rain was killing off the beautiful trees in Germany’s Black forest, and here in the States many lakes were becoming too acidic for fish and other aquatic creatures to survive. If it were not for EPA regulations, many of these problems would still exist !
You may or may not be aware of the many late 1900’s environmentalists who were at the forefront of revealing damaging pollution sources and actually doing something about it. Legal groups like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have been great watchdogs and have made a huge difference in keeping our planet’s resources and wild areas relatively free of pollution. Then there were the individuals who took it upon themselves to fight against rampant environmental degradation, two of the most well known being Julia Butterfly and Erin Brockovich.
Julia was a young idealist who had the guts to save some of the last remaining ancient Redwood trees in California by camping out in the top of one of the largest (which she called Luna) and staying there for over one year without coming down ! Her goal was somewhat achieved, making deals with the lumber company to preserve the trees surrounding Luna before she descended back to the earth. After that she formed a small movement of earth caring people, and I actually heard her speak years ago at Hood college. She is one of my heroines, and a major inspiration for many others. Perhaps we too can do something , perhaps not so grand , or brave, as Julia, but SOMETHING….
Another woman who stuck her neck out in order to make a difference was Erin Brockovich. Perhaps you remember the movie made about her efforts staring Julia Roberts, the far too sexy version of Erin but nonetheless interesting and entertaining. Erin became a “whistle blower” when she discovered major groundwater pollution due to the negligence of the gas and electric company she worked for. After a difficult fight, the company repented of its ways and Erin became a heroine for all of us who care the heck what is happening to our water and our air. We may never do anything so noble and scary as she did, but the day may come when we too will be confronted with something we can do to make a real difference.
Mahatma Gandhi was a wise man, as was Jesus. Both of them said that we should, and CAN, live with less. When Gandhi died all he had in his possession were his eye glasses and his sandals. As far as I know, Jesus didn’t own anything. My question, and the question of so many others, especially young people I know, is how in the world did we get to this place where all that we own and buy, besides being way too much, is polluting and basically wrecking our planet ? These are huge, important questions for all of us to be asking, and many of us are.
Why did Gandhi feel as he did when he said “Reject excess, honor nature”? Perhaps he knew what Jesus knew…that “heaping up treasures on earth” will lead to spiritual disease. I am sure they both knew how our materialism would injure this precious gift of life we have on our planet. One only needs to see, on line, the photo of a dead pelican whose stomach is filled with plastic trash, which is filling our ocean and marshlands, to know this to be true.
Is there no remedy, no hope? Of course there is, so long as people jump in to solve the problems. After all, the most basic and useful trait of human beings is our ability to problem solve. Our children are learning to do this in school everyday, and so are we adults in our everyday lives.
So live lightly on the earth, and take action. As I always say, “Every little bit helps”, but “do more if you can.” I .