“Take only what you need and leave the land as you found it.”
“When we show our respect for other living things, they respond with respect for us.” ~ Arapaho
“We will be known forever by the tracks we leave.” ~ Dakota
“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next 7 generations.” ~ Iroquois
“If you continue to contaminate your own home, you will eventually suffocate in your own waste.”
“When a man moves away from nature his heart becomes hard.” ~ Lakota
“Listen to her – our Earth, our Mother; listen to what she is saying.” ~ Mohawk
“Be still and the earth will speak to you.” ~ Navaho
Native American tribes, as diverse as they are, have many things in common. Perhaps one of the biggest and most important things they have in common is how to care for nature, for Mother Earth. The above Native American proverbs are just a sampling of the different tribes and their view. As you can see, each one is worded differently but they each speak on the importance of taking care of Mother Earth. Native Americans, and other indigenous tribes all over the world, have understood the importance of man living in a balanced relationship with nature. They have known for eons that one must take only what they need and leave enough for the next person or other living being that comes along. Whenever possible, replace what you take such as trees.
I am not referring to climate change or global warming. Enough attention has been brought up about this topic. I am talking about natural resource exploitation and the garbage we leave wherever we feel like it.
Man has had a long history of exploiting or over harvesting natural resources that Mother Earth has provided for all of us to use. It began shortly after man walked the Earth and it continues today. Some examples are;
1. In Europe around the time of the Dark Ages, mass deforestation took place. As people went from the wandering, nomadic life to sedentary(living in one place) life, forests were cut down to heat homes, make buildings, furniture and later paper. As the demand for wood grew, the supply dwindled quicker than it was replenished. Beautiful ancient forests were replaced with barren, desolate land.
When the white man came to North America, the same thing happened. Vast trees in the north eastern part of the country were cut down to heat homes, build buildings and furniture.
2. In America during the Great Depression, there was a period of time called the Dirty Thirties. During this time, a phenomenon called the Dust Bowl occurred. This was an event during a severe drought when farmers overused the land and didn’t apply dryland farming methods to prevent wind erosion. This caused the Great Plains to turn into a desert which changed the weather patterns due to a lack of vegetation. Massive wind storms picked up the dust from the Earth and carried it as far East as Washington DC. This became known as the Black Blizzard.
3. There have also been countless problems with man over hunting animals and fish. Some animals have been hunted to extinction or have hovered the endangered list, while others can still be hunted but there are restrictions on quantity, sex or age of the animal. Examples are crabs, tuna fish, deer, etc.
4. Mother Earth’s minerals have not been spared the onslaught either.
As far as human garbage is concerned, the list of what we’ve done is very long. We have become to greedy and lazy. Our greed has lead us to not only overuse and exploit but careless and reckless as well as. Just think about the oil spills and other accidental or incidental pollution events over the last 75 – 100 years. Our water, land and air has all been affected.
How many times have you driven down the road and thrown or seen someone throw a beverage can, fast food wrappers or even gum wrapper out of the window instead of in a garbage can? Have you noticed roadsides littered with garbage? Do you know how long it takes for that garbage to break down? The following list should give you an idea
Banana Skin 3 – 4 weeks
Paper Bag 1 month
Cardboard 2 months
Apple core 1 – 2 months
Aluminium Cans more than 1 million years
Orange Peel Up to 2 years
Cigarette Butts Up to 12 years
Plastic Bags Up to 20 years
Plastic Bottle 450 years
Glass 1-2 million years
Petrochemical products never truly breakdown and remain in the environment forever.
As you can see, it takes a long time for our waste to breakdown, if ever. Now I’m going to assume that many if not all of you reading this don’t leave garbage all over your home. I know I don’t. So, if Earth is also our home, why do we leave garbage all over it?
We do not need to look very far to see examples of what we’ve done. Can you think of other examples of how we are draining our resources?
We can point fingers all day long about who’s done what to each of the resources but that will not solve the problem. We need to come up with viable solutions. If we are to pass Mother Earth to our children, we need to do a little work. We can start in our own back yards and in our communities. Wherever you find garbage, pick it up. In your community, there may be events where everyone gets together to work on an area. Go participate. Your community doesn’t have one? Start one up. And for heaven’s sake, if you take from the Earth, take only what you need and replace what you take if possible. There are plenty of activists and organizations that are working to clean up and preserve the resources that sustain life but they need our help. Donate your time or your money. If all you are physically able to is pray, then do that.
All it takes is one person to get the ball rolling. Together we can make a difference.
Thought for the day: “We are grateful to the Mother Earth.” ~ Pueblo
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