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A new year, new goals for the planet

2023 01 08 hawke winterHere it is, a whole new year dawning before us. This concept was driven home as we took down our dog-eared and messy 2022 calendars (of which there are many in our house) and replaced them with crisp new images and page after page of blank squares.

Yes, all those blank squares, each one representing an upcoming whole day of potential opportunity and activity… makes one almost giddy with excitement!

However, after the heady rush of new printer’s ink wafting through the house drifts away, the reality settles in. Appointments made last year are now coming due, environmental issues from the previous 12 months continue to taint the future well-being of our province; indeed, emotional baggage does not shed off as easily as turning a fresh page.

Deep breath. Head shake. Eyes forward. We can do this.

About four decades ago the catch phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” became our collective rally point to counter some of the harm being inflicted upon our planet. It took a lot of work, a lot of convincing, and a fair bit of time to have this message and its associated actions to sink in and actually happen.

I can recall the introduction of Blue Box recycling as being a suspicious “Birkenstock, granola-munching, hippie” kind of idea. Now it’s a mainstream concept and if you don’t participate you are viewed as being less than an ideal community person. So, change is possible.

About the same time there was put forth the notion, the realization, that our economy, the environment, and our society’s health are all part of a ‘three-legged stool’… cut one leg short and the others topple. Trying to find balance is a near impossible task, yet try we must.

          A while ago I read about a new 3-Rs phrase that may be more in keeping with the times: Rights, Respect, and Responsibility.

          Rights. This term is so often used to replace the word privilege. We all (yes, all 8 billion of us) have the right to clean air, water, and soil. Yet some of our co-inhabitants of this planet have spoiled much of these life-assuring essentials, due perhaps to either greed or simple ignorance.

          No one has the right to remove another person’s rights, especially if the basic elements of survival (food, water, shelter) are turned into power chips for the privileged.

          The next is Respect. Now here's a powerful word. Respect for the land, for the inhabitants, for each other and each other's point of view (perhaps the word 'tolerance' comes in to play here as well.) Respect is a product of understanding. We have to understand that we must respect the Earth for all that we have. As actions are undertaken without respect, then rights are violated. It is time to rethink our attitude with regard to respect and what that word means.

          And then there is Responsibility, the action of being accountable for what you have done, or not done. Although past events have been tragic, there are nowadays more companies taking responsibility for their less than stellar history of environmental stewardship. Dollars and expertise flow to toxic spills or chemical accidents, the tab being picked up by the mega-company involved.

          Rights. Respect. Responsibility. Each carries an important message, each is powerful, and each is related to the other. To have respect but refuse responsibility is unacceptable. Ideally (perhaps) every action we take in the coming year should address these words, and we must be able to live with the answers we give ourselves. It will be no small challenge to complete the year with this goal in mind.

          We are privileged to live in a part of the world, indeed this part of the province, which has such an abundance of natural beauty and wealth. Can we enter the next solar orbit knowing that we have done all that could be done to ensure such precious gifts are to be enjoyed by generations yet to come, those who will continue to have the right to such basics as good air, clean water, and rich soil?

          We truly are all in this together; 365 blank squares. Opportunity abounds.

           But now it’s time to go out and fill the birdfeeders, to see what the chickadees have to say about things; might learn something new.

Dave’s Notebook: With this weird weather pattern, I'm starting to think I should invent a thermal lined raincoat and make millions! 

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© 2023 David J. Hawke

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