Posted by Cary Belling on Monday, March 30, 2020
This piece draws parallels between needed action to deal with the crises of pandemics and climate change. It reminds us of how our individual constructive actions combine to create change on both a local and global level. Contemplation on the beauty of nature is encouraged, as it can support us in the current crises as well as compel us to get involved with restorative efforts like the Pasadena CSC.
A few days ago during a break in the rain, I rode my bicycle down to the Rose Bowl. Traffic getting there was unusually light. Inhaling the fresh clean air made me wonder if somehow I had been transported to a utopian future where tailpipe emissions and industrial pollution had been eliminated. As I pedaled on, my feelings of well being and mindfulness increased. I began to recognize a deep connection between global crises of various types, be it war, pandemics, or climate change. I realized when it comes to a global problems - size matters and at the same time very small things can have big consequences.
The magnitude of the current pandemic is indeterminately huge - yet the virus is microscopic. And although carbon dioxide molecule is about 400 times smaller than a virus, the effects of releasing too much of it into the atmosphere are just as lethal. In some ways reducing greenhouse gases is even more challenging - because there is no one solution. There is no vaccine or wonder drug to reduce the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. From the broad view, pandemics and climate change are similar problems that demand both individual and collective action.
So how do we respond to crises of this proportion? We are witnessing selfless and courageous actions being taken by thousands of individuals on a daily basis. Firefighters, police, doctors, nurses, medical staff, and other essential workers are giving desperately needed help despite their own risk of viral exposure. Across the country, economic stability and personal freedom are being sacrificed as businesses close and people stay home. But even though we must keep a safe social distance, people are combining resources and helping each other.
Environmentally, individuals are also making changes big and small to reduce emissions. People are rethinking their modes of transportation, lifestyle, purchases, and diets. Climate change also demands that governments, municipalities, corporations, and businesses must also transform and restructure.
Like it or not - when it comes to global issues like pandemics and climate change we are in this together, we are interconnected. We are in the same boat regardless of ethnicity, religion, wealth, or status. No-one is invulnerable. Global crises by definition disregard borders and walls. Pandemics and environmental disruptions inevitably affect us all. However just as any one of us could intentionally or inadvertently cause harm, each of us has the potential to bring healing.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of Earth Day this April 22 let’s remember how the sublime beauty of nature can soothe and support us as we deal with the current crises. While keeping a safe social distance - we might find a moment to experience the profound solace and restorative power of nature in the most unnoticed places, along the sidewalks, in parks, yards, and byways of our community. Even when we can’t get out, contemplating nature’s wonders large and small can be almost as beneficial as being there.
A master of English verse wrote:
“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over -canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and eglantine.”
Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare evoked a sense of wonder - a secret bank of flowers and wildlife that is momentarily - as the breeze blows - a slice of heaven - a gift from nature that’s sublime and priceless. You could walk right past and miss it entirely. Yet if you linger and take in the visage, you’re consciousness is transformed so you experience in an instant the “meaning of life and the universe.” This understanding is deep and broad and yet so delicately subtle that it is difficult to be captured in prose - only in sonnet, song, and art. And if you happen upon that moment of revelation, it will open a door where you know that beauty matters, that creatures on this planet matter, and maybe just maybe people (including one’s self) matter too - as ugly as they can be.
It’s only out of this sense of wonder and love of our planet that we are motivated to take action. The heart has to come before head in this matter. Global threats like climate change and COVID-19 can easily envelope us in a prison of fear. But if we open our highest consciousness to the beauty of nature just for an instant, we might discover an inborn spiritual connection to all of humanity and the beauty of the planet that sustains it.
Though an effort might seem small, each person can make a difference. When enough of us create positive change, a utopian future for everyone is imaginable.
The Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition advocates for safe streets, robust public transportation, and infrastructure supporting alternative mobility as a way to reduce emissions, support the local economy, and make Pasadena an ever more attractive city. We urge all who live, work, or vacation here to get involved and raise your voice in support of walkable sidewalks, safer crosswalks, and more protected lanes for bikes, scooters, or skateboards. and to look for possible locations for bioswales - where precious water can be naturally cleansed by recirculating it underground.
Though out this newsletter you will find many ways to get involved - virtually for now - and in person when we can again congregate. And when you are out exercising at a safe social distance - notice broken sidewalks or other infrastructure in need of repair or improvement and save your notes. Once we have bridged the current crisis needed improvements can be reported to the city of Pasadena either by phone at (626) 744-7311, at the City Of Pasadena website Citizen’s Center, or via the Citizens Center smartphone app.
Tags: Earth Day 2020