Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, founded in 1970 to “build the world’s largest environmental movement to drive transformative change for people and planet”.
It seems now that such a movement is needed more than ever. With climate crises worsening, despite the temporary reduction in pollution and CO2 levels due to most of the world being quarantined right now, we need a call to action and more than this – we need a call to hope.
Earth Day gives us all an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with the planet on whom we live and move and have our being. What are we taking from the Earth? What are we giving back?
In a broader and braver sense, what type of relationships can we develop as a global society coming out of quarantine and beyond? Can we begin to move away from an economy of profit over planet, to one that values life, sustainability and wellbeing for all, human and other-than-human lives alike?
To do so is the most challenging task, but also the most desperately needed. While the current kleptocratic order of capitalist hegemony seems overwhelming and eternal, so as Urusula K. LeGuin reminds us, did the Divine Right of Kings: “Any power can be resisted and changed by human beings”.
Empires crumble, but the Earth remains. From the ruins, we can begin again and craft real and meaningful relationship with each other, with our fellow beings, and with our world – not as resources to use but as kin to honour and share with.
For Pagans and Druids who claim to worship and honour nature, every day should be an Earth Day. Every day should bring us moments of opportunity to think about our relationship to the Earth, to resolve to buy less, fly less, take less, and give back wherever we can; whether that’s small-scale projects like litter picking and tree planting or by being part of global movements to speak truth to power and change the path of policy and governments. You don’t need to be perfect at this, but we can work to be better.
And of course, let’s not pretend that the responsibility for the future of the Earth rests on the individual using reusable shopping bags – a mere 100 companies are responsible for the majority of pollution and CO2 emissions – we need to hold them to account.
The official Earth Day website has ideas for 24 Hours of Action today to help our world – maybe pick one or two actions and do them today and in the days, weeks and years to come.
I leave you with a blessing for Earth Day from the brilliant Starhawk, teacher, writer and activist, from her book The Earth Path:
“We give gratitude to the earth, to the dust of stars that congealed into the body of this planet, our home, and that still gives form and solidity to our bones and flesh.
We honor the rocks, our sisters and brothers, and their long, slow cycles of transformation into life and back to seabed, mountain, stone.
We give thanks to the living soil, the mother’s flesh, and the billion creatures that haunt her caves and pores and chasms, to the beetles and the ants and the termites, to the soil bacteria swimming in the slick of water that clings to her mineral archways, to the worms, wriggling, eating, coupling, and transforming within her.
We bless the plants, the roots and stems and boughs, the great trees reaching upward and the deep-rooted herbs pushing down, all who contribute to the cycles of birth and growth and death and decay that lead to fertility and new growth.
For all that feeds and sustains life, for all that grows, runs, leaps, and flies, we give thanks.
Blessed be the earth.”