What Has Happened to Earth Day? by Joe Bish, Population Media Center

Photo from Getty Images.

“It is wrong to bludgeon, beat, eviscerate and burn the natural world to suit the vagaries of human desire.” – Joe Bish (Photo from Getty Images.)

Over the last several years, I have found that few things provoke a deeper sense of cynicism in me than Earth Day. Granted, the first official “Earth Day” took place several years before I made my grand entrance into this world—but even so, during my formative years in the late 1970’s, what was conveyed to me was that Earth Day was grounded in a legitimate revolutionary essence—perhaps 80 parts “protest” and 20 parts “celebration”—that held in contempt the machinations of industrial civilization as it stuffed denuded, dismembered and destroyed parts of the living Earth into its gaping maw.

It’s a deeply ethical thing for me, and I suspect for many others: It is wrong to bludgeon, beat, eviscerate and burn the natural world to suit the vagaries of human desire—and at this point, in the “developed” countries, where mass consumerism mesmerizes an already satiated bourgeois into purchasing ever-more throw-away toys, trinkets and travesties, these “desires” are of such vanity and grotesque proportions as to be almost unspeakable. That this brutal exploitation of the Earth continues moment-to-moment, day after day, year after year—all the while scaling up, as the human-load on the Earth ratchets up by over 1 million people every 5 days—is, at its heart, a senseless and idiotic tragedy.

I can’t in good conscious forfeit the whole idea of Earth Day: after all, all the protests and teach-ins and celebrations were, and to some extent still are, based on love. Love for the Earth, love for the potential of human beings and our relationship with the Earth. Love of life. And, from my experience, there is determination to be found in this sort of love.

So, today, let us observe a moment of silence for this mysterious and knowable Earth. And I hope in that moment some sense of reverence for life, some sense of reverence for non-human species, some sense of reverence for your own self finds you … and, if so, that from this moment onward you will keep that respect and love close to your heart in all your worldly decisions and behaviors. After all, you are the only hope the Earth has.

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