On this Earth Day, 2015, it’s critical that we all understand the effect we human beings have on our environment and do what we can, both individually and collectively, to support our Earth—for she is not just our home, she truly is our Mother. Indeed, we too often lose sight of the fact that we depend upon her and her health for our very survival! Our physical bodies are made from her natural elements, she provides us with oxygen to breathe, water to drink, and food to sustain us. To deplete our natural resources and poison our own environment is ultimately to destroy ourselves.
That’s why I’m deeply grateful every time I see someone doing the right thing and acting responsibly instead of littering—that is, cleaning up after themselves, recycling, and depositing trash where it belongs, in a trash can. Unfortunately there are far too many people who don’t. They carelessly and selfishly toss their trash away anywhere, either leaving it for someone else to clean up or, even worse, just allowing it to pollute our environment and harm our wild neighbors.
I see irresponsible people dropping cigarette butts and wrappers everywhere, discarding their fast food containers in parking lots, allowing their plastic bags to blow away and collect on fences, and shoving piles of yard debris out onto our rural byways. Our waterways are clogged with clutter, our parks are defaced with graffiti, and our neighborhoods are plastered with signs promoting businesses, candidates for office, yard sales, and even rooting for teams in local sporting events.
It’s easy to feel angry, depressed, or disgusted when we see how little others care for or respect their neighbors and the world we all share but, in the end, that doesn’t solve anything. Instead, I’m learning to feel compassion for and forgive those who litter—for they don’t understand how their thoughtless acts and attitudes only harm themselves in the long run. They don’t understand that they will eventually learn, perhaps through karma, that their actions have consequences. Finally, they don’t understand how intertwined all life is—and that to harm others by littering or polluting is to ultimately harm oneself.
So now, when I start to feel disturbed by someone’s careless or disrespectful behavior, I try to remind myself that this life experience is only temporary. I try to remember that those responsible will one day be held to answer for their actions—and I’m grateful for the fact that I AM conscious enough that I may choose to behave differently. Then, if I’m able to help resolve the problem by picking up the trash and disposing of it properly myself, I do so. I consider it just one more opportunity to serve others and make a positive difference in the world. Otherwise, I offer the situation a silent blessing, forgive those responsible, and move on with a greater appreciation for the unique beauty of our Earth. Many times, I also envision myself in a more perfect world—one in which everyone truly appreciates one another and cares for our environment. It’s a world where nature is pure, unspoiled, and even more beautiful than it ever has been. And a dream like that really shouldn’t be that difficult to achieve if we are all willing to work together.
Now, if it just so happens that you are a “litterbug”, then please choose not to be! Just because we may be loved and forgiven by our Creator and others doesn’t mean there are no consequences for our choices and actions. In the end, we must all be held accountable for the things we do. So the next time we have a choice, let’s all make the best choice to do the right and responsible thing. Let’s be sure to put trash where it belongs. The Earth will thank you. Your neighbors will thank you. I will thank you.
There’s no doubt about it—when we take just a moment to make the right choices in life, everyone wins!
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