BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Can we love the Earth? That’s the fitting Socratic response to the famous soliloquy, “To be, or not to be” uttered by Hamlet so many moons ago. But yet, here we are playing the role of lover as we celebrate another Earth Day. A day of Man’s professed love and appreciation for the planet they inhabit. What a farce. Our illusion of self and our destruction of the planet knows no bound. And yet, here we are pretending to care about our only source of life while smoke billows behind us from massive machines and factories, inhabiting life next to pits steadily being dug deeper into the Earth’s crest in search of more riches for Richie Rich, while fracking is having a field day smashing through Mother Earth’s platelets. Happy Earth Day, fools!
Since 1970, at the height of the Vietnam War and two years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when certain people started to gain a level of conscientiousness of nature and its value, Earth Day became an annual celebration around the world to demonstrate love and support for the environment. I say certain people because indigenous and tribal peoples have always known and understood the value of nature. That’s why they respect Mother Earth and only take what they need. But not the rest of mankind with their unsatisfied appetite for the riches embedded in her bosoms.
During a webinar on Earth Day, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr. said, “Every day should be affirmed as Earth Day.” Dr. Chavis, Jr., an assistant to Dr. King, Jr. in his youth, coined the term “environmental racism” which is, “racial discrimination in the deliberated targeting of ethnic and minority communities for exposure to toxic and hazardous waste sites and facilities, coupled with the systematic exclusion of minorities in environmental policy making, enforcement, and remediation.” The civil rights movement and the environmental movement intersected during this era to combat the destruction of underserved and poor communities across the country and the world. And that fight is still ongoing as landfills, mine pits and fracking stations litter the places were only the poor call home. Dr. Chavis says this day is a time to be reminded of the oneness of humanity adding, “Earth Day is also liberation day.” He says, “The Earth needs to be liberated from all the climate change deniers and from all the polluters who are damaging and destroying the lives of millions of people.” He also points to Native Americans who have long worked to get their European conquerors to see value and affirm the sacredness of Mother Earth … of little, or no avail.
Human beings must resist the evils of environmental destruction or face extinction. It’s unimaginable witnessing the Coronavirus pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, in turn, clearing the polluted waters of Venice, encouraging wild animals out from hiding to venture into formerly crowded streets and towns. Even jellyfish and dolphins are floating through clear canals in Europe again. It took death by an unknown disease to resuscitate environmental life. Why must it take disease, death and destruction to curb our enthusiasm for pollution? Our carbon footprint is killing the only planet we have and yet we have the audacity to celebrate Earth Day like lunatics. Charles Simmons said, “No man has a right to do what he pleases, except when he please to do right.” It’s time to do right by Mother Earth. And an annual celebration marking our love for her won’t cut it. We must face the reality of the role each and every one of us plays in the destruction of the Earth and change. Or, we can keep the “party” going … while we can.