Earth Day, the March for Science, and Three Things We Should Know

Today across the nation there are a number of public demonstrations set as a “March for Science.” I’m an enthusiastic supporter of anything that holds up science. And, these days of political turmoil where we have stumbled into a fact free era, this isn’t a bad time to pause and recall.

As I hope everyone knows, today, the 22nd of April is also Earth Day. I suspect there was no coincide in this meeting of these two events.

Earth Day is observed both nationally and internationally, and deservedly so. While we face many problems within our human communities that desperately need to be addressed, we are also in the midst of an ecological catastrophe, the outer limits of which appear to be the extinction of our species. And one would think that would get our attention a tad more front and center than it does. This year a number of scientists started using social media to call for a grand march to draw attention to the dangers to critical thinking writ large, but specifically the attacks on science by the current administration in Washington, and hold up the dire consequences of turning away from reason and the scientific project.

At this point while the focus is that march on Washington D.C., it looks like there will be some six hundred formally related events, and who knows how many wild cat things, taking place in a good sixty countries.

Now, we can’t all participate in the events themselves. But, we can all take advantage of the moment to allow ourselves to reflect. Me, as I think about all of this, I believe there are three lessons for us to take away. And, if we understand they are true, not optional opinions, but facts on the ground, then who knows what good might follow?

We are a part of nature. We are one with nature. What we do counts.

It is an inescapable fact: We are a part of nature. When we look honestly we see how we are simply a part of the great dance of evolution. We can look at the great apes and we can see close, close cousins. We can look at the work of science and we can see how we are the lucky branch of a family of hominids that succeeded in the great rush of evolution.

And, closely related, but cutting deeper to the bone: We are one with nature. Our blood is the blood of the world. Our bones are the bones of the world. And, we’ve been gifted with an amazing ability to know these things. We can know our connections. And, we can experience as our life the fact we are related to the whole blessed thing. We belong no where else. This is our home.

And, last: What we do counts. There is no fact free zone. Anything we do, anything you or I do, has consequences. We can either further the great play of life, or, we have in our hands, the power to create living hells, and even to wipe life off of this globe. It is a terrible power. And, it comes with a grave responsibility.

And in celebrating Earth Day and reflecting on the march for science, perhaps we can recall that message and the earth and the web of life of which we are a part. Who knows what good can follow such a recognition? Maybe even the preservation of our species for a while longer. Which, on balance, I do think is a good thing…

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