Musings: The Earth Is Our Mother
Molten lava. Tree frogs. A fertile valley. Our green-blue marble in space. These are some images that come to mind when I think of Mother Earth.
I grew up in the suburbs of America with TV and telephone and developing shopping mall complexes, but we never talked about Mother Earth. We learned about our planet -- the Earth -- in science class, but despite the obvious fact that every living thing in the world depends upon this Earth for its very life and survival, it never occurred to me that the planet, herself, was alive. As a schoolgirl, I viewed Mother Earth as an ingenious, though lifeless, supply source created by God to provide our food, shelter, raw materials and even natural beauty. I believed that I and millions of other humans and species were living “on the Earth,” and that the resources of the planet were here for us to use, so we should take care take of them if we wanted them to last.
Over the years, I slowly began to see, then understand, and finally to feel the connection to Mother Earth through my body, mind and heart. With Earth as my Mother, all of life is my family because she is Mother to everything on this planet. This means we are all connected and whatever affects you -- human, animal, plant, rock, element -- also touches me. As Nature goes, so does humanity. Perhaps this is why the ancients and elders of indigenous traditions respected Mother Earth so completely -- because they understood that she is the only common bond uniting us all. We must look at history, look at the facts and admit that our religions of the Father have served to greatly divide us; however, there is only one Mother for us to embrace and if we love and respect her, we will naturally act to love each other as parts of her.
Some may object to personalizing planet Earth as a mother being, calling it the stuff of myth and legend. Yet Webster’s Dictionary defines “mother,” among other descriptions, as “the origin or source of something.” Science will confirm that there is not a single detectable molecule of our beings that does not find its source in our Mother Earth. She provides all of the elements and nourishment we need to survive on this planet, just like our own mothers did before we were born. We could not have been born without our biological mothers; we could not continue to survive without our Mother Earth.
We care for Mother Earth not only because we want to protect the resources she provides for us, but because she is our Mother. Like the pure Mother she is, she teaches by her example to love all creatures unconditionally without prejudice, to give abundantly of all the fruits of our labors, and to do what we need to do to cleanse, heal and stay healthy so that we can continue to nurture and provide for those around us.
Millions of starving people. Millions of gluttonous people. Entire ecosystems polluted and dead. Radioactive waste. These are also images of Mother Earth.
The indigenous elders say that Mother Earth is sick now from our neglect and abuse. The animals (and humans!) are losing their homes and habitat. The ice caps and glaciers are melting. All around the globe the soil, water and air are so polluted they can no longer sustain life, but take it away. We have come to believe these conditions are a necessary consequence of our increasing world population and modern lifestyle, but in reality, our polluted, immoral world is a result of the choices we are making. We choose to ignore the needs of our Mother and the rest of our family, following after our own selfish pursuits for more, more, more instead.
Currently it is very much in vogue to have it all, do it all, be it all, experience it all. This is the American Dream and way of life, much coveted, yet also much resented around the world. While we certainly have the choice to dip into the planetary cookie jar as much and as often as we like and experience every pleasure, thrill, sensation, new vista, novelty, power trip and luxury for our own benefit, does that mean we should, just because we can? Should we save some of those cookies for others or give them to people who don’t have any? Should we eat less or stop eating cookies altogether? What happens to people who eat too many cookies?
Droughts, flooding, civil war and economic crisis have thrown nearly 40 million people into severe hunger crisis in Africa. The World Food Programme estimates it needs $1.8 billion in 2003 to meet the emergency food needs of this continent. Compare this to the $2.2 billion price tag of just one Stealth bomber or the $17 billion that Americans and Europeans spend each year on pet food. Clearly, there’s no shortage of money, but shortage of conscience and common sense. Can you imagine if all the people in the combined metropolitan areas of New York, Los Angles and Tampa were facing life without food? Would the rest of the country just stand by and watch?
Something is terribly, terribly wrong on this planet when that many people are starving and a single Hollywood movie grosses $40 million in one weekend showing. Remember the old TV commercial for margarine: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!” Except it’s only ourselves we are fooling by trying to find happiness in owning material things and living the “good life,” when it’s really a connection with God through our love for other beings that we’re searching for. It’s these “things” and the infernal racket to buy, own and upkeep them that drives us straight away from our spiritual connection because we just don’t have the time and money to support both material and spiritual pursuits -- or so we choose to believe. What we need to understand first is that we truly own nothing; it can all be taken away in an instant, without so much as a word, a signature or a swipe of a card from us.
Mother Earth is calling to us with her beauty, her generosity and now her pain to pay attention to the destruction our material lifestyle is causing on this planet. As long as our brothers and sisters -- human, plant and animal -- anywhere around the world are in pain, so are we, even though we may be too numb to feel it from the constant drip of slick advertising injected daily into our lives. It’s time for us to focus all our efforts, our resources and our passions on world healing and transformation as if these were our final days. Even if we don’t succeed in building a new world, it’s very important that we tried. A new way of thinking is in order. We possess all the tools, the resources, and the abilities to create a better way of living on the planet. Let’s do it!
"You can never change things by resisting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete." -- Buckminster Fuller
Carol Bedrosian is the publisher and editor of Spirit of Change, New England's largest holistic magazine