On a late night, like tonight, when all the world is still, and I open my door to gaze at the night sky and listen to the sound of the woods and the crickets nearby, I imagine I can hear the Earth Mother heaving a long, tired sigh. Like every other mother, I’m sure she worries about tomorrow and what will become of her children. Yesterday, as I finished up my evening run, I witnessed a sleepy tangerine sun, yawning as a flock of birds framed its setting portrait. It was a goodnight whisper, like only La Madre Tierra can give. I realized how very little time I actually spend appreciating the gifts of this Earth anymore. Then and there, I vowed I would go for a walk everyday this summer with no other agenda but to befriend the earth again and take in her splendor. In his book, The Future of Liberation Theology: An Argument and Manifesto, Ivan Petrella offers a poignant reminder of how humanity has balanced out its priorities. I’ve read it before, but there are some passages that always shoot straight for the heart, and for me, this falls under that category. He moved me to reassess my other priorities as well, and I’d like to share the passage with you:
“It would take 6 billion dollars of additional yearly investment to ensure basic education in all developing countries;
8 billion dollars a year are spent on cosmetics in the U.S.
It would take 9 billion dollars to ensure clean water & sanitation for all;
11 billion are spent on ice cream in Europe.
It would take 13 billion dollars to guarantee basic health & nutrition for every person in the developing world;
17 billion are spent on pet food in Europe and the U.S. combined.
Petrella goes on to say that
0.1% of the world’s income… would cover the bill for basic education, health, nutrition, clean water, and sanitation for every single person on the planet.
Yet, currently, while the world’s richest nations possess only 1/4th of the world’s population, they consume 70% of the world’s energy, 75% of its metals, 85% of its wood, & 60% of its food. (p. 17)
I guess one main ingredient to solving our over-consumption crisis is not just to stop consuming less, or consuming more consciously, but also to start giving back (time and money) to help restore balance, to help heal the earth and humanity from this mess we’ve created. I think, given the above data, we can probably stop making a big fuss about using a little less and giving a little more. It’s a small price to pay for all the gifts this earth has given us. In light of where we lie on the scale of inequality and privilege, it’s only fair. Don’t you think?