Where Have All the Flowers Gone

sad-earth 2.jpg
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

I usually wait until later in the day to tend to my blog, but today, being Earth day, I began first thing. I start triggering my thoughts by scanning the web for stories, and today the first instance came off of the front page of the NYTimes home page. I’ll comment about this in a moment, but, first, why this very moving, sad song by Peter Seeger.

I should be celebrating, but all I feel this morning is deep sadness for the Earth. After 40 years of Earth Days, consciousness of the Earth as our home, our dwelling place has dimmed, being replaced by a ritualistic, commercialized version. But then so have all of our once meaningful holidays gone this route. From the Times:

Forty years later, the day has turned into a premier marketing platform for selling a variety of goods and services, like office products, Greek yogurt and eco-dentistry.

And later in the same article:

In part, said Robert Stone, a independent documentary filmmaker whose history of the American environmental movement is being broadcast on public television this week, the movement has been a victim of its own success in clearing up tangible problems with air and water. But that is just part of the problem, he noted. “Every Earth Day is a reflection of where we are as a culture,” he said. “If it has become commoditized, about green consumerism instead of systemic change, then it is a reflection of our society.”

I agree with him and always point to the need for transformation at our cultural roots if the situation is to change for the better. Fixing the myriad of environmental problems by buying green products and using more efficient machines of all sorts is illusory. The problem lies deep in the culture. Until we stop acting out of the sense that what we have defines us, and discover that it is the depth of our relationships with people and planet that is what makes us whole, Earth Day will be little more than another opportunity to express ourselves through consumption. Forget eco-dentistry and go give a tree a real bear hug.

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