The next time you are out rushing hurriedly from here to there, take a minute and step back to examine your footprint. Is it bigger than you imagined?
We’ve always been concerned with going forward, faster and faster, ignoring the impressions we leave on the Earth for future generations. Throughout human history, we’ve been wrapped up in a blanket of technology and invention, thrilled by our own intelligence and ingenuity. We have been so awestruck by our own brilliance that we’ve failed to notice the impact we have had on our environment.
This dates back to the colonial era, when we ignored others’ views that Mother Earth and nature was something to be respected, when we took without thinking, when we stole from others without remorse. We were in awe of our own power, our control over the environment.
If we were cold, we could make ourselves warm. If we were hot, we could make ourselves cool. If we needed oil, we found it. If we needed water, we used more than necessary. We took and took until there was nothing left to take from both the people and the planet. The consequences? Global warming, resource depletion, pollution, destruction of the forests, oceans, and countless other tragedies.
The optimists say that our brilliance will save us; that somehow we’ll save our environment before it’s too late. We’ll invent something miraculous to answer our prayers, and we’ll all be okay, successfully avoiding responsibility for our actions. The pessimists say that it’s too late, we’ve done too much damage; we’ve dug our own grave and it’s about time we lie in it.
Sometimes, I imagine the earth wrapped tightly in Band-Aids of different colours, saying “help me, I’m hurting,” like an injured child, crying and crying. Our planet is still young, still a child. It’s not too late, even if we’re lying in a coffin we built ourselves, we at least owe it an attempt to fix our mistakes.
We’ve made mistakes. We’ve made mistakes in the past but at least we’re acknowledging them. We’re saying “Oh no, we’ve screwed up,” and if we don’t change it soon, we’ll be saying “Oh fuck, this is suicide.” Because, in many ways, that’s what this is. We are slowly killing ourselves through overconsumption, and if we don’t change our behaviour and alter our beliefs then the human race will become just another note on a page of history that will never see daylight.
So, I say stop walking so fast. Look at your footprint. Look at the impacts you leave behind. Look around you and notice what you’re doing and what you aren’t. Examine your assumptions. Stare directly into the eyes of your privilege. Make a difference.