In my last couple of posts, I wrote about a few philosophical theories pertaining to environmental ethics. I wrote about the theory of Reverence for Life and Land Ethic. In studying these two things, I have become more aware of a somethings about me that I have ignored for a long time. I am not only part of nature but I am nature.
You may be rolling your eyes saying, “yes, and what is your point?” This is such a significant statement that not many people take seriously. Nature could survive without us, but we could not survive without nature. When I say nature, I mean the land and all of its inhabitants. Rivers would still flow without humans. Birds would still chirp and plants would still grow. All of these things would strive without us, but without water, plants, and animals we would die. We must appreciate and be in unity with nature.
Now this is not a rant about going green and helping save the planet; we will save that for another time. This is my take on saving ourselves.
Generation X and Baby Boomers LOVE to complain about how the Millennials and their gadgets are destroying society. If I had a penny for every time an old geezer (pardon my youthful disrespect) said that smartphones and tablets are ruining kid’s social skills and blah blah blah, I would be rich. “It’s all because of that Facebook and MySpace,” seems to be the response to every issue.
Listen here, IT IS NOT OUR FAULT. The idea was not introduced to me until less than a month about that many issues that we have are related to our disconnection with Earth. I have spent nearly 15 years in school and it was not until I was in a 4000s level (senior level) ethics class that I thought, “hmm, maybe it isn’t the connection to our phones, but the disconnections to our roots.”
Who designs these school systems? Men and women whose goal is to educate children in order to prepare them to make the most money possible design them. I have taken several biology and anatomy classes of different levels and not once has a teacher emphasized the importance of maintaining a connection with the Earth and why is that? It is because being a “tree hugger” doesn’t typically bring in the money.
Before I go off on a tangent on how past generations have screwed us royally but continue to blame us, I will move on to what is important.
Last week, a close friend and I were texting on our gadgets and he said to me that he is not an outdoors person. I have heard this too many times from kids who have grown up in front of TV screens, watching shows and movies or playing video games.
Within the past decade, I have observed that kids pay outside much less than they did when I was growing up. My mother used to lock us outside and tell us we could come back in when she called us for dinner. We climbed trees, played in the woods, and just got dirty. Now parents say things like “oh, it’s not the same world I grew up in” or “I just cannot let my child run around by herself.” There does seem to be more crime and danger but there is a simple solution: go outside with your kids or find them a safe place to play.
In nannying, I have noticed that kids either love to go outside or can’t stand it. This is very often determined by the parents and their parenting style. The parents who make a big deal about their kids being dirty and keep their kids inside most of the time seem to have the grumpiest and least sociable kids. I watch two kids whose parents do not let them have any digital screen time (meaning playing on tablet, watching TV, etc.) and do not allow them to go outside and get dirty. These children are so disconnected from everything that is important.
I have learned that I, personally, am most happy when I feel at one with nature. I have decided to spend time away from my phone and listening to the sounds and feeling the feelings of the great outdoors most often. I have begun to spend more time outside with my dogs, whether it be relaxing in the backyard or going on walks by the canal or in parks. I am making an effort to be more intentional with my time.
There are many ways to reconnect with nature or to encourage your children to connect with nature. Here are some easy ways to mend your relationship with Mother Earth:
Integrate an outdoor workout (run, walk, bike ride, open water swim) into your schedule a couple times per week, weather permitting. If the path you plan to take is safe, maybe even forgo the shoes. I am barefoot as often as I can get away with it, and have been this way since I was little. I have recently learned of earthing, which is basically walking barefoot on land (not asphalt or pavement) in order to restore a physical connection to the Earth which is said to provide natural health benefits. Companies actually produce floor mats that mimic the electrical charge of the Earth so that people who live in cities or are trapped inside during the winter can practice earthing, as well.
Take advantage of local parks! I love parks, especially beaches (I think this is considered a park??). In South Florida, there are park everywhere! In more rural areas, there may not be as many parks, but you can find different farms that open up to the public.
Make an effort to admire natural beauty more often! Appreciate how beautiful the sky is, whether it be during a sunrise or when it is lit up by lightning. Take in the sights and sounds of the sea. Just appreciate all of the beauty we are so blessed to enjoy.
Plant a garden (or have a collection of potted plants, even if it’s a couple in your window sill). Having 20′ x 20′ garden may not be feasible for everybody, but taking care of plants is good for your soul (and good for the environment). It feels nice to give back to this land that gives and gives and gives for us to live each day, even if that means keeping a small cactus alive. Plants turn the byproduct of our lungs (carbon dioxide) back into the oxygen we need to breathe!
Make an honest effort to appreciate all life (from trees to bears to earthworms). Respect other humans and respect all life.
These are just a few simple steps to becoming more connected to nature. The most important thing is to acknowledge our place as human beings, not dominant to nature, but part of nature.