It's official, Earth Day is April 22. Having one day to symbolize cleaning up the rubbish in our parks, roadways, and beaches, and planting trees and pulling out evasive plants to help native plants flourish is a bit silly. Don't get me wrong, it is wonderful to see all this concern and activity for one day, but isn't this something we should be doing every day? It's like celebrating Black, Hispanic and Women's History Months, even the Golden Rule Day we just celebrated on April 5. Shouldn't we include all of this in our daily lives, rather than think of them just on designated days?
Earth day reminds me of the warmth and beauty of nature—not clean-up. There are those masterful works of literature that bring us to the foot of nature, Sara Teasdale's poem, "There Will Come Soft Rains," placing her belief, during the time of the Spanish flu of 1917, that rain will bring us hope and a new beginning. Or, the hip hop artist, Tupac Shakur, who asked that we bring our attention to the beauty of nature in an urban setting: "Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared." We can't forget Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring", which gave birth to the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. The list of those who have awakened us to the beauty and conservation of nature is extremely long: Annie Dillard, Terry Tempest Williams, Camille T. Dungy, Aldo Leopold, Helen MacDonald, Leslie Marmon Silko, Thoreau, and Robin Wall Kimmerer, who recently shared her perspectives on Braiding Sweetgrass with us as part of our Global Read. So many names should be included here, but I would like to call out the name of Rabindranath Tagore.
A number of years ago I worked on a guide to a radio program with the Independent Broadcasting Association, on Tagore. He is most remembered for the writing of his spiritual poetry for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work, Gitanjali. Many in India remember him as a lover of nature, expressed through his writings, poetry and songs. In fact, the experimental school that he began, Santiniketan, held most of their classes outdoors, since Tagore believed that nature was one of our greatest teachers. In the poem here, Tagore evokes the sustainability of nature:
On great souls, fly the banner to conquer the deserts.
Oh the tender soul, bless every speck of dust
on this earth with great piety.
Let the ever-silent soil sing the song of your glory,
Oh beautiful soul, encompass with flowers and greeneries.
Oh, my traveler friend, come for a rest under the shadow of trees,
Come playmaker of winds and be fascinated by the blue sky.
In the dawn aspire hope on the woods and
In the dusk, bless them with deep dark tones.
Oh Great Mind, sing the tune of a peaceful corner on this earth.
Just as Tagore noted that nature brings us to understand and couple our common humanity with Her, we stand in awe and humility of her beauty, in reverence and gratitude of the gifts that she gives us: air, water, soil and our fellow animals with whom we share this EARTH.
The Charter for Compassion's arts partner, Films for the Planet is pleased to be presenting its fifth annual Earth Week streaming film event, April 16-23. You are invited! See details below.
Global Freshwaters Summit Virtual Film Festival
Register to watch free films throughout the week, participate in film discussions, and hear from leaders in the Rights of Nature movement who are working to ensure water protection and environmental personhood. From the U.S. heartland to New Zealand and beyond—our great rivers have a story to tell. It's up to us to listen—as together we set an intention to value, heal and protect our most precious natural resource. From pollution, industrial agriculture and water privatization to the rights of nature—we will explore how our personal and planetary health depends on fresh perspectives and collective action.
Featuring 15+ award-winning documentary films, and virtual moderated panels and talks over the course of the 8-day festival, The Global Freshwaters Summit programming will surround five topics—State of the River, Governance, Protecting the River, Food and Agriculture, and Lifestyles in Harmony with Nature. Learn more and register.
with warm regards,