"We didn’t get here by accident though. And now my own survival is in peril. And I have no one to blame but myself."
Editor's Note: We're starting our CSR & Sustainability 2012 series today on an introspective note. Like last year, we have an impressive lineup of thought leaders and experts who will examine the year that was, guide us on what might be ahead and offer their advice on how our business, social and environment consciousness will converge. They will spotlight achievements, highlight trends and activate the change makers among us. Consider this series a call to action.
Today's compelling editorial is by Danielle Lanyard, lifelong environmental entrepreneur and founder of the Green Breakfast Club. Here we go:
Good morning, beautiful global populace. Yes, I’m talking to all seven billion of you. Although you’ve been bouncing around on my back for your entire life, I don’t think we’ve ever formally met. Please, allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Mother Earth. Though there is some dispute about who created me, there should at the very least be a consensus that you all live on this planet, and this planet has a name, and it is my namesake.
Since sharing is caring, I have graciously given everything I have to every single human being since the dawn of time, and never once asked for anything in return. Till now. Some of you are starting to realize that humans have only been on this planet for about 0.01% of my lifetime, which is why I’m writing to you today.
Were I not such a levelheaded planet, this would be my ‘I’m angry and I’m not going to take this anymore’ moment. Yet, after being alive for 4.5 billion years, I’ve evolved beyond anger, and am now trying to reach you all in the only place left that hasn’t been bought or sold, clear cut or mined: your heart.
At the heart of this clarion call is not a desire to point a finger or dump all my emotional baggage on your sprawling mansion’s doorstep. Far from it. I’m thrilled for all the material wealth that roughly 1 percent of your population has accumulated. But I am also understandably concerned for the other 99 percent, as well as the nearly three billion of you that live in extreme poverty on less than $1 dollar a day.
Of course, you can’t remember the days before things like currency existed but I do. I can still smell the fresh air and feel the flow of my rivers running through my proverbial hair.
Those days are long gone.
We didn’t get here by accident though. And now my own survival is in peril. And I have no one to blame but myself, for I never taught you what the animal and plant kingdoms figured out on their own. I never thought of teaching you my Ten Commandments, which cuts across religions as well as whether you believe in any God or not.
I am not here to debate whether the universe has a purpose. What I present to you is beyond the idea of right or wrong: it is my greatest truth, and I'd like to share it with you before it is too late, and we are all no more.
1. We Are All In This Together
If you are alive, then you are a part of me and I am a part of you. From the moment of conception to the moment you were born, you are a part of this ecosystem, part of me. This includes all of us. We are all in this together. Remember this the next time you toss a cigarette butt in our forest or dump toxins in our ocean.
2. Do No Harm
If not self-explanatory already, this precept doesn’t need much debate in your courts of law, but decided in the hearts and minds of each one of you in every action you take. Think about it. You learned the value of doing no harm as children in kindergarten. Don’t forget it, for it is killing me, literally.
3. Don’t Throw Your Trash In My Backyard
Cause my backyard’s full!
4. Value Everything
Equally. This includes everything from iPhones and hybrid cars to museums, sunflowers, mountain lions, and your grandma! Every single entity has a value, even if it can’t be deposited into a bank. Give that a think, and honor yourself as the beautiful being you are, and then extend that value into everything. Try it. It can’t hurt, and you just might find that you are happier because of it, and have more than you think you have!
5. Leave No Trace
Anywhere. Ever. From campgrounds to the ivory towers of the corporate complex. You are born into me out of nothing, and after a few decades, you are no more. So leave no trace. Ever. Anywhere. I am not able to clean up your mess, and apparently, the human race may not be either.
6. Let The Love That You See Be The Work That You Do
For animals and plants, this means merely survival. But for humans, your heightened complexity, which you have internalized, is now killing you. Flora or fauna don’t suffer from mental illnesses and handicaps, yet millions of humans suffer from "allergies" and disorders in some capacity or another. This is not what I intended nor is it the most joyous way to be alive while you are living rent-free in my environment. So do what you love, and as long as that love isn’t for nuclear warheads or toxic waste, you’ll probably be happier, and I’ll be cleaner and healthier as a result!
7. Do Something
Many of you will live your entire lives without doing a single act of charity, activism or initiative for the benefit of another. This has to change. I am now on the brink of extinction, and if you have a bank account filled with ‘assets,’ while I’m losing most of my biodiversity and thrivability, the natural order of things, if I may say so myself, is horridly off. And you need to do something. Now.
8. Live As If Every Moment Matters
Because it does. I live by this credo, because I have no other choice, and I find that my billions of years of existence are better for it. Humans must breathe in order to stay alive. So make each moment matter and use your breath to remind yourself that you have the power in each and every moment to live with purpose, and make every moment a meaningful one.
9. Get Over Yourself
Yes, it has to be said. Many humans say this to one another under the auspices of concern, but I believe you really need to say this to yourself. It’s not a comfortable thing to say, but we are a few decades beyond niceties at this point, as all of our very existences are now in jeopardy. The creation of humans was and is a magnificent endeavor, but so is the masterful formation of the Big Dipper or Mount Everest or the Amazonian jungle, as well as your newborn baby and your brand new Maserati. All of creation is a beautiful wonder so why not cherish all of it, and put this whole anthropocentrism to rest, before it kills us all?
10. Love All As One
Period. Always. All ways. Repeat.
These ‘commandments’ are pretty simple, don’t you think? And it would appear that animals, plants and all carbon-based matter have been living by these precepts since the beginning of life, well, that is, until humans came along. And then everything changed. For a while, we got on all right, until the planes, trains, automobiles, nuclear reactors and genetically modified food, politics and missiles came to town.
And then everything changed. Again.
I take responsibility for not teaching you these simple ways. I didn’t realize I needed to, and now I reckon it is almost too late. But if we use your computer modeling programs, then you humans must be ‘warming’ up to the reality that global warming exists, humans are the cause, and the time to change is now. Right now.
It’s gonna take a miracle. That miracle is us. And I believe in miracles. After all I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t, and my existence is proof that miracles are possible. You’ve never tested my resilience in any of your laboratories because you can’t encapsulate the whole planet in your tiny test tubes. And this is a good thing. Because the miracle is in all of us.
So what are you waiting for?