Greenpeace Southeast Asia

A time for reflection by Chuck Baclagon
April 10, 2009, 8:00 am
Filed under: Greenpeace, Greenpeace Core Values, Life at work | Tags: , ,

If you are a Christian, you know that the Lenten season starts after Ash Wednesday, and lasts 40 days, culminating with the celebration of Easter.

For those who live in the Northern Hemisphere, this is a time when spring is coming, and with it, the sense of renewal or rebirth of nature. For those who live in the Southern Hemisphere, it is a time when autumn arrives and with it, the quieting of the Earth and the preparation for the darkness of winter. In both cases, nature invites reflection.

Now you may ask: “Why should I care about Lent if I am not a Christian?

Well, I say that no matter what religion you belong to, if any (or none at all), seeing that nature is also inviting you to become more aware of the seasonal changes, Lent may be the best excuse for you to go into your cave for a little while and, as others have done before you, to reflect and meditate on your life.

What can you do to take advantage of such a great time for the renewal of your soul as well as the renewal of your body and your life?

My answer would be to take time to meditate and reflect, I say this first as a person of faith, but also as one who looks at myself as a part of the environmental movement.

Below is an interesting article that I’ve recently taken time to read and think about here at home.

Sandra Steingraber once wrote in her 2004 essay entitled: The Obligation to Endure…Again…, that between the overwhelming and the trivial lies another path when it comes to environmental activism and it is in that piece that she talked in length about the birth of the modern environmental movement that was heralded by Rachel Carson’s April, 1953 Washington Post letter -to-the-editor.

Below is an interesting portion of the essay about taking action for the environment:

No one likes to feel overwhelmed. Or patronized.
When trying to coax people toward environmental activism, I seldom emphasize the dire nature of our situation. It is dire, of course. More dire than when Rachel Carson warned us about its direness. The problem with striking this note, however, is that most folks cannot imagine a response that they could make that would be sufficient to solve the problem. When faced with the prospect of catastrophic ecological ruin, people tend to make one of four choices. They become fatalistic about the situation – imagining that nothing that ANYONE could do at this point would make a difference. (We’re doomed.) They avoid thinking about the topic altogether. (Too depressing.) They become survivalists. (I’ll buy bottled water.) Or they discount the messenger. (Environmental wacko.)
Recognizing this tricky psychology, some advocates have taken the track of focusing on the small and the easily do-able. As if dutifully carrying out recyclables out to the curb each week had the power to keep the icecaps frozen and the jet stream from collapsing. Most people know it won’t.

Between the overwhelming and the trivial lies another path. It involves encouraging people to seize on a piece of the problem about which they already have a passionate knowledge and to work as hard as they can on that piece. People who love fishing should work on renewable energy: the burning of coal is the number one contributor of mercury in our atmosphere, and mercury contamination has now made the fish in most freshwater rivers and lakes in the United States too poisoned for children to eat. People who golf should challenge their country clubs to embrace organic turf management. Golf courses typically use more pesticides, acre for acre, than farms. Skiers and surfers should tackle global warming. Teachers need to go after air pollution, which contributes to childhood asthma, a leading cause of absenteeism in schools. Lovers of clothing need to compel their dry-cleaning shops to switch over to non-toxic wet-cleaning technology: the chlorinated solvent perchloroethylene that is typically used to dry clean clothes is a leading contaminant of groundwater. It is also a suspected carcinogen.

What I often say to my audiences is that now is the time to play the Save the World Symphony. It is a vast orchestral piece, and you are but one musician. Yet you are not required to play a solo, but you are required to figure out what your instrument is and play it as well as you can.

Because in the end – the environment is not just something else to worry about. It is connected to all things we already worry about – our children, our health, our homeland and love with all our hearts.

It is my hope that we will all find our place in the symphony as we take time to meditate on our role in the continuing struggle for a greener and peaceful future.

Chuck Baclagon

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