The following response is a contribution from a student at Youth Initiative High School in Viroqua, Wisconsin.
“The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world.”
The Earth asks of us exactly what we ask ourselves. It’s the soul. It’s the voices inside each of us. You have to love yourself for others to love you. You have to love the Earth and treat it with kindness if you expect the same things in return.
The decision of moving to Viroqua, Wisconsin has changed my perception of the world. It opened up my eyes and made me aware of the things that are happening around me. I come from a background of people who don’t really know much about nature and how terrible the human influence is for the Earth. We cut down trees to make the tables that we don’t need, we kill animals for fun and post pictures of ourselves with a dead lion next to us expecting others to leave another comment on your Facebook page that will boost our self-esteem. Humans truly are constantly looking for attention and recognition from one another. It feels good to be accepted by society; it feels good not to care about how your actions might affect others. It feels good to have things that you don’t need and make an impression of being happy and content.
Awareness. That is the word I have been looking for. The Earth wants us to pay attention, to listen, to communicate. Most of us go through our lives thinking that everything is given to us and that is the way it’s supposed to be. We take the planet that we live on for granted. Some of the main values of any relationship are respect, communication, and mutual understanding of what both of you want and expect from it. Humans are in a relationship with everything that they come in contact with. The Earth gives us all these beautiful things but does not expect anything in return. A flower will continue being beautiful even if nobody looks at it.
We all have something to learn from the Earth. If people just realize that mass destruction and mass production will not lead us anywhere but will only destroy the human race and the Earth, and truly and openly take in that idea, that might change something. However, the human race has gone too far with overusing and overproducing. How can we answer this question if we separated ourselves from the Earth? We don’t think of ourselves as a part of nature anymore. We are humans. That, outside, is nature. But what is nature? A concept made up by humans.
It is time to wake up. We all participate in destruction. We are all in this together. Instead of loving each other and working toward peace, humans build walls around themselves. What have we become? We don’t trust our neighbors anymore when a thousand years ago we all lived under the same roof. Our values have changed and with that so did our relationship to the Earth. All we do is take; all the Earth does is give. Money, greed, profit, competition, corporations, is that what we really want our planet to be? A bunch of emotionless insensitive “humans." You will never survive in a world made out of money, but you will thrive in a world full of nature.
My mind has been all over the place with this topic. But if I had to make it simple I would say that the Earth is asking us to all live in harmony with its creatures, to love each other and care for each other. It asks us to enjoy its gifts, admire its beauty, but not take anything for granted. Love. Love is everywhere.