It may be the end of the world as we know it. We’ve only known so much of it, and only for so long, but it may be ending. Nature is not without her forgiveness. Where there is death there is rebirth, meaning a new world is always imminent, but it may no longer be ours, or what we called ours. At least not what we’ve laid claim to.
We call ourselves the dominant species. We are right, but only inasmuch as that means anything at all. It is a word and concept that we invented. Nature is equitable to each of her children; there is no hierarchy outside of those we’ve created. Simply roles that must be filled, mandated by evolutionary equations and the sublime will of the Universe. Nature herself is the only boss. But even by our own definition, that dominance is threatened. And we are at fault. The Earth is ill.
Stroll Through The Garden
Today is Earth Day in North America, and attention turns, even if just ever so slightly, to care for the planet. Our planet, by the way, is very large. It is also very powerful. Ancient, pulsing orb of mineral and minds, it is a mother in its own right. The Earth is not the world, however. The world is far smaller than our planet. A superficial writhing on her skin. The world is nature made more complex by human curation. The world is a garden, and the Earth, what’s left, is wilderness.
Among our most ancient inheritances is mythology, the spiritual breath of our collective cultures. Many of our creation myths discuss gardens. Gods creating mankind and placing them in land set aside for curation. This is how we view ourselves, divine groundskeepers bending and twitching branch and vine to our pleasure by a heavenly authority. As antiquated as many people claim to find this idea, we certainly act like it is the case.
Curiously, it is also common for mankind to be expunged from their Garden, being found undeserving of paradise through means of hubris and mistakes. These mistakes aren’t limited to snakes and legendary towers. Rome and the Mayan empire were said to fall due to environmental degradation. When we make the Earth ill, we become pathogens that die with the host.
Why We Need Earth Day
If we are to consider ourselves dominant, then the world is our throne on Earth. It is the seat of our power. It is also the contract of our reign. We have to consciously design our world with wisdom and felicity in mind. So long as the world remains a legitimate structure under mankind, we have the right to exercise our curation. This isn’t a statement that requires any level of theology.
Accepted tenets of leadership tell us that to rule legitimately we must earnestly serve first. In history, exploitation has been excused in the name of some greater good or another. What greater good can there be than the planet that sustains all life or the communities that give human meaning to anything at all? To exploit either not only breaks maxims of leadership but violates sound sense.
We must cater to and curate our world in a way that serves and glorifies both the planet and our communities. This is a scale we must balance if we are to legitimize the world and all of its creations. If we do not, the equity of nature will take over. Communities will revolt or nature will disrupt herself for her own sake.
Culturing A Lifestyle of Curation
I’m neither a sociologist nor am I a scientist however, I speak from the rhetoric of both. If we fail to control human-affected ecosystem and climate change, natural compensation may exceed our expectations to adapt. If we continue to treat scarce resources as abundant and abundant ones as in dearth, society will rebel against unfair distribution and destruction of natural resources.
We worry a lot about carbon footprints, recycling, and conscious consumerism. Each is good, but they only address the world as a place of harvest while neglecting it as a garden. This Earth Day we should add onto these mentalities a culture of curation. We should own our roles as planetary gardeners. Here are some suggestions to do so in your own day-to-day life.
1. Clean Fallen Leaves
We call leaves on the forest floor “litter.” In a garden we control what grows and the health of the soil by clearing litter. While we don’t have leaves, we still drop litter. We must begin to look at the ground as the floor of our garden and take initiative to intentionally take time to clean litter.
2. Pull the Weeds
What are weeds except for plants that take resources away from plants we want to thrive? What weeds can you pull that take away resources from you and nature? An electronic device that is almost always on standby? A water feature that is always on and rarely seen? This can serve you economically as well.
3. Turn the Soil
Turning soil helps both loosen it and mix its nutrients. Where can you make it easier for environmental thinking and actions to take place? This is a great place to start as a consumer. Not by consuming something new, but by making adjustments with what you have. Adjust your water heater. Arrange your kitchen in a way that uses fewer single-use tools.
4. Plant Good Seeds
This isn’t a metaphor this time. Plant seeds. Grow greenery. The world is an actual garden for humankind amidst the wilderness of nature. Lest treat it as such by planting a tree somewhere this Earth day.
5. Make it Beautiful
A garden is an aesthetic structure. Whatever you do, keep it beautiful. This may not be an obvious service to the Earth but consider that we take better care of beautiful things. Well placed beauty, especially in ways that nod toward or sit besides nature, help us respect and admire it. Flowers and houseplants are encouraged. We should also keep renewable energy collectors and reservoirs aesthetically pleasing.
Earth Day is only One Day
These are all merely suggestions to help condition the mind toward curation mindset. To help establish the identity of a world gardener. However, it is a daily practice. Simply building the garden doesn’t unemploy the gardener. Every day she must pick, prune, plant, and plan. If not, it all returns to wilderness. This is what the peace of the garden truly is. Let’s act as caretakers to our garden, and work to heal the Earth from its illness. Let’s never let that illness be us.