In honor of Earth Day, April 22, 2017, I’m inspired to post my tremendous gratitude to Mother Earth and all she provides. I encourage everyone to take a moment and offer up love and gratitude in whatever way you choose. Our planet is a glorious, wondrous home that is teetering on a perilous future. Whatever side of the issue you happen to fall on regarding climate change, it doesn’t require politics or bias to connect with our planet and take a moment to reflect on the beauty of Mother Earth!
I’ve been a passionate activist for decades. In addition to my work on mass incarceration (see my book, Celling America’s Soul) the planet–and our future as planetarians–continues to be a critical cause for me. The opening chapter in my book, The Global Kindness Revolution, Kindness to Mother Earth, presents my personal perspective and guidance on how together we can help heal the planet:
Chapter One: Kindness to Mother Earth
“A Poem for the World”
by Warsaw Shire
Later that night
I held an atlas in my lap,
ran my fingers around the whole world
where does it hurt?
Imagine you’re an astronaut looking down on Mother Earth, so far away—she looks like a tiny, blue-green marble surrounded by endless stars, planets and galaxies. Send a beam of Light of Kindness to her, zapping her with your light, seeing waves of kindness swirling like a healing wind around her.
There is a Hopi Native American prophecy that says that if we don’t mend the ways we treat Mother Earth, she will “shake us off like fleas from a dog.” Our abuse of the earth for power and exploitation has brought us to face our own self-destruction as she shakes us off with hurricanes, tornadoes, uncontrollable wildfires, drought, floods and 65 million refugees fleeing the results of global abuse. There is a pile of refuse the size of Rhode Island floating in our oceans. With planetary consumption of bottled water we shudder at the thought of what happens to all those empty plastic bottles. Americans consumed over 30 billion liters of bottled water. What about the bazillions of disposable diapers joining that pile of refuse?
We have indeed raped our Mother Earth!
The Hopis proved right again with Mt. Everest. Hundreds have tried to trek to her summit over the last century. They left behind them tons of discarded equipment, a few frozen bodies and tons of frozen feces, practically immortalizing it on those icy slopes.
Finally, Mt. Everest had had enough and she belched a huge landslide that covered the enormous pile of excrement, not exactly recycling it but at least hiding it out of sight, to be defrosted and exposed once again when global warming melts the cover-up. Do we have to make explorers carry little bags with them, capture what would be left behind, let it freeze and take it back down the mountain in their specially designed backpacks? American dog lovers can be seen in any urban or suburban neighborhood picking up their companion dogs’ poop and gingerly taking it away for disposal (more plastic bags).
Imagine the earth is a large ball filled with many layers from rock to liquid to gas, all perfectly balanced beneath her skin. Over time, mines are dug, mountaintops are blasted off, and for decades we’ve been slurping her oil, which kept it all in balance, causing her to sink into herself where depleted, causing tectonic shifts, a shift on the earth’s axis. So earthquakes are born, several a week now in highly-fracked Oklahoma. Global Warming is no joke. The toxicity in our air, water and food has weakened our immune systems along with what I call ‘Technostress’ from the information overload combined with the chronic problems with our dependence on technology, which is at times, unreliable.
We waste too many hours a week trying to correct technology. Could it be that were we to test all the drinking water in the US we would maybe discover the root of what author Philip Roth describes as “The Indigent American Beserk” caused by lead poisoning and the multitude of toxins in our environment resulting in brain damage? That can be the only explanation about the global psychosis growing stronger every minute, Mean Minds in charge, bent on destruction.
The Irish side of my family settled in Burnsville, PA, a small village “down the mountain from Centralia” where my maternal grandfather, Thomas Mohan, ran a store while my grandmother, Anne, taught school. A center for coal mining, an underground seam of coal caught fire below Centralia almost a century ago and has been burning ever since. I remember as a child when we’d go “upstate” to visit relatives, that beside the clotheslines set up in the back yard of Nana’s house was an opening in the back yard with smoke coming out of it. We kids were warned to stay away from it or we’d be sucked down into the fire, surely a bit of Hell down there. The town was evacuated, refugees fleeing to more stable places, its last resident leaving for heaven years ago. On the drive up and back we’d see what were mountains of slag, what was left from coal mining, rocky hills and peaks where nothing ever grew for many years. A few years ago, while driving past the region for the first time in decades, I was amazed to see the former slag heaps covered with trees and abundant bushes, grasses and wild animals, a testament to Mother Earth’s ability to camouflage our destruction of her riches, her wounds, just as she did with the avalanche she created on Mt. Everest.
Can we slow global warning enough before there’s no more viable life on the planet? Could KAN have an impact, washing the earth every day with our aligned Kind Minds, maybe even being a tool against mental pollution and toxic politics? Isn’t it worth a try?
Even the wealthy have to breathe and we all live downwind!
An aspect of Climate Change that seems to never be mentioned is overpopulation. There are just too many people on earth and the numbers grow daily, especially in poorer countries. Yet in many countries, including the US, there are often deadly attacks on women’s reproductive rights. Though now banned, many countries still practice Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on young girls—UNICEF reports at least 200 million girls in 30 countries—ever denying them sexual pleasure and causing infections and permanent damage, including psychological devastation as found with those who’ve been forced into sex trafficking. Current statistics indicate one in five college women are raped. It has been shown that when women control what happens to their bodies, when they decide when/if to become parents, their family’s economic situations flourish.
Yet globally politicians seem unified in denying women the right to control what happens to their bodies. Their only interest seems to be controlling a woman’s uterus. Once the child is born, without a safety net, good health care, education, un-poisoned-by-lead-painted housing and a true child-oriented government, the babies too-often join the ranks of the impoverished and fill our prisons, the biggest in the world.
Does the epidemic of global wars stem from distorted religious ideology and who’s going to control women’s bodies? As patriarchal systems are declining, pushback to preserve political power often becomes violent as we read daily of offenses in our Global Rape Culture where rape is used as a tool of war. There’s no place on Mother Earth that a woman can walk safely, without the fear of rape.
Political battles seem illogical, especially when supported by “low-information voters” who support political candidates calling for imprisonment of any woman who’s had an abortion. But not the man who got her pregnant. All children everywhere should be wanted, welcomed and cared for, and given every opportunity to grow into their fullest potential. Depending on where they’re born, their lives and futures are limited by what Warren Buffet calls “The Uterine Lottery,” their geography, where they’ve been born, into which culture.
Doesn’t it seem odd that though women generally produce just one egg a month, while men have 500,000 sperm per ejaculation we focus only on the egg? Aren’t we focusing on the wrong gender? What to do about all that sperm?
What do we need, Sperm Police?
Here are a couple of possible futuristic, science fiction proposals to ponder: Let’s imagine that scientists have discovered the cure for cancer is sperm, which cannot be manufactured by Big Pharma and needs to be collected fresh to work. That little egg doesn’t stand a chance against such odds unless contraception is used, something still banned by some governments who also deny women choice over what happens to their bodies.
Recent studies have shown that so many young men get their sexual experiences from online porno that they are unable to function normally, without a blue pill, with real-live women. So what happens to all that sperm? The government could make available, for free, sterile collection cups, so there would be plenty of the life-saving substance. Every “donation” would be logged onto computers and overseen by trained staff, alerted to telltale signs of clandestine ejaculation or illegal pregnancy. Isn’t this a far better use of all that sperm?
The New American Refugees
Due to the abuse of Mother Earth by the greedy, the corrupt and the ignorant, her air, water and soil have been poisoned, so most of us are living in a toxic soup, leaving us vulnerable to diseases and chronic suppression of our immune systems. Right now the world is bracing against the spread of the Zika virus, causing birth defects and microcephaly in newborns. Just like my Irish ancestors in Centralia, PA, thousands of residents of Porter Ranch, CA, had to flee their homes when a gas explosion filled the air they breathe with deadly methane. The leak was not stopped for months. Flint, Michigan showed us how crooked politicians care nothing for the lives of poor people as they deliberately poisoned a city’s water supply to save a buck. If the water everywhere was tested for lead levels, the results would bring us to a halt. The Flint crisis reminded me of a poem I wrote after the leak at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in 1979 in Pennsylvania, titled “Three Mile Island Woman.”
Building a Relationship with Mother Earth
People often ask me why I studied for fourteen years as an apprentice to the late Sun Bear and other indigenous teachers. Besides finding reward in their profound wisdom to enhance my own spiritual growth and worldview, their deep connection with nature was one of the main attractions I had to taking on an apprenticeship. Observing their awareness and appreciation of the mechanics of our natural world was truly inspiring. I came away with an enriched relationship with and respect for Mother Earth through the ceremonial activities I took part in. I was left with a lingering joy and activated awareness of all that nature provides us. We can take lessons from Native American ceremonies that honor Mother Earth. I’ve created a visualization exercise that will help you activate a deeper appreciation for the planet.