As I sit at my desk, insulated from the world around me, I can’t help but find myself mesmorized by the swaying motion of the trees outside. Just in the last week, my lone window facing the world has exposed me to the downpour of rain, the beaming light of the sun, and the snow flurry remnants of our bitter winter. In just these two weeks I’ve become connected and enveloped in our world’s power. I’ve seen the trials and tribulations of our nature’s path right before my eyes. It’s hard to not appreciate, ruminate on, and consider these changes that we so often take for granted.
The food we eat, the earth we walk on, and the air we breathe is all just a subset of what Mother Nature has to offer us. We are intrinsically natural beings, born and raised from the earth beneath our feet. It’s time to make these connections and recognize where we come from, what our source of nutrient is, and what allows us to continue to live and thrive as a species.
Yesterday marked the 43rd annual Earth Day holiday. It’s not just a holiday. It’s a celebration. A day of appreciation. A commemorative moment where we reevaluate our place in nature. What contributions do we make? How have we helped the source of our life? How and where can we improve?
For those that aren’t familiar, a brief history lesson is worthwhile. Sipping my morning cup of coffee in Milwaukee, I began researching the origins of Earth Day. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the founder of Earth Day was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. His name was Gaylord Nelson. Even more interestingly, he graduated from my Alma matter – the University of Wisconsin-Madison! It’s no surprise that environmental efforts were prominent in Madison, WI back then – they’re certainly not lacking there now.
Asked for his rationale in establishing an Earth Day, Senator Gaylord Nelson spoke frankly, stating that, “For several years, it had been troubling me that the state of our environment was simply a non-issue in the politics of the country.” Senator Gaylord Nelson delivered a speech in Denver, CO on Earth Day in 1970, explaining that “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all living creatures.” Senator Gaylord was strongly influenced by Aldo Leopold (also a UW-Madison teacher) and his teachings that focused on environmental and forest specialization and conservation. Throughout his tenure as Senator and after, Senator Gaylord was a critical proponent of environmental consciousness and helped fortify the efforts made to live in a more sustainable, natural, and conscious world.
Today, Senator Nelson’s mission lives on. Earth Day now serves as a collaborative effort by all citizens to live in a more unified and natural existence, taking strides to improve our sustainability and conservation efforts. Earth Day is credited with launching our modern day environmental movement with laws such as the Clear Air Act and Clean Water Act following. The Earth Day Network has been established in honor of this movement. Its website states that, “Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.”
While Earth Day only lasts for the one day, it’s more of an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to make holistic and lifestyle changes for the environment. It’s an opportunity to change your daily habits, weekly regimen, and become more environmentally responsible.
If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to engage yourself in the world around you. Step outside and connect yourself with the world.
Post by David Gelfand
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