Back to Nature (Published on - Feb. 23, 2005)
Truth sets us free
Photo by Rick Tremmel
What does the fate of a tri-colored heron have to do with us? The answer: Everything.
“Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.” – Indian Proverb

Sunday 30 January 2005: In his recent speech at The Center for Health and the Global Environment, Bill Moyers: “The news is not good these days. I can tell you, though, that as a journalist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free – not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk. What we need is what the ancient Israelites called hochma – the science of the heart ... the capacity to see, to feel and then to act as if the future depended on you.”

There before her on the little round table was a long list of statistics. Shaking her head, “No one likes to read statistics,” she said out loud. But the math is overwhelming, she thought, boring, but overwhelming. She poured over the list once again thinking that by categorizing the stats in columns, under simple headings and eliminating the less sympathetic groups such as: beetles and moths, the list would begin to take on a more reader-friendly format. She picked up the papers and sighed.

“These just don’t make interesting news. Where’s the story? Who cares about a Persian mole or a Malayan water shrew?”

She could predict the comments: “It’s too small.” “It’s too far.” “It’s not affecting me. I have enough problems of my own as to worry about some shrew way the heck over in Malaysia.”

“Ah, I don’t believe in all those statistics ’bout endangered animals. Anyway people make those things up for political purposes.” “All environmentalists are fanatics.” And her most favorite: “The Bible says the end of the world is coming. Animals are becoming extinct in the natural course of prophesied events.”

She sighed; chin cupped in hand upon propped up elbow. We live in an age of movie stars, music pop idols, sci-fi, video games and melodrama. Truth may just be boring but it is truth that sets us free. We abuse our planet and the natural life that depends upon her to exist. Abusers are abusers no matter whether they are hurting humans or animals. They are still all hurting living breathing beings.

How many people actually realize that it is estimated that only 5,100 to 7,500 individual tigers now remain in the entire world? These remaining tigers are threatened by many factors, including growing human populations, loss of habitat, illegal hunting of tigers and the species they hunt, and expanded trade in tiger parts used for traditional medicines.

“Nothing I can do about tigers in India or China.”

“It does not affect me personally.”

Albert Einstein: “A human being is part of a whole, called by us the Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Meryl Streep: “Our health depends on a healthy environment, and I believe that people will preserve the health of the natural world once they realize how directly it affects them.”

Sigourney Weaver: “We are part of the environment, not separate from it. We need to think beyond conserving the environment for the sake of the environment, we need to conserve the environment for our own sake and for the sake of our children.”

Feb. 7, 2003: Leonardo Dicaprio: “Our fresh water and oceans are being polluted, soils are eroding, rivers are running dry, wetlands are disappearing, fisheries are collapsing, rangelands are deteriorating, temperatures are rising, coral reefs are dying, and not since a meteor hit the Earth 65 million years ago have so many species of plants and animals become extinct in such a short time. It only took five to nine degrees to take us out of the last ice age. Now a couple of degrees difference in today’s temperatures may seem insignificant, but again, five to nine degrees is all that separates us from catastrophic global change.”

Unknown Speaker addressing the National Congress of American Indians in the mid 1960s: “In early days we were close to nature. We judged time, weather conditions, and many things by the elements – the good earth, the blue sky, the flying of geese, and the changing winds. We looked to these for guidance and answers. Our prayers and thanksgiving were said to the four winds – to the East, from whence the new day was born; to the South, which sent the warm breeze which gave a feeling of comfort; to the West, which ended the day and brought rest; and to the North, the Mother of winter whose sharp air awakened a time of preparation for the long days ahead. We lived by Creator’s hand through nature and evaluated the changing winds to tell us or warn us of what was ahead. Today we are again evaluating the changing winds.

“May we be strong in spirit and equal to our Fathers of another day in reading the signs accurately and interpreting them wisely. May Wah-Kon-Tah, the Great Spirit, look down upon us, guide us, inspire us, and give us courage and wisdom. Above all, may He look down upon us and be pleased.”

We borrow the Earth from our children in truth and reverence back to nature.

Karen can be reached at

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