Reflections on Earth Day

By:Michelle Berditschevsky

At this time of year when everything in nature is budding, blooming and sprouting, many governments and communities, including the City of Mt. Shasta, are joining in to celebrate the wonders of life on Earth Day, April 22.

Earth Day is a worldwide event that was first organized in 1970, when 192 countries and 20 million people commemorated life on the planet and promoted awareness of growing environmental problems, pollution, loss of habitat, and effects on future generations. We humans seem to need this annual reminder in order to appreciate our life-support system in all its magnificence and to face what we are doing to the earth, including “the degradation of ecosystems, mass extinction of species, and global climate change.”[1]

After the grey and white days of winter, we look at our world with new eyes. We see the magnificence of flowers, we hear the birds singing, we feel the power of a storm, and we sense the possibility of a more harmonious human role in this miracle that sustains us generation after generation. Given our common ground, the fragmented, polarized atmosphere of our human world is rather astounding.

Paradoxically, by listening to the earth, focusing on what we have in common, we may learn to bridge our differences. We find that the earth encompasses a great diversity of beings and that each has a part to play in an immense system of balance and harmony. Contemplation of nature imparts to us the qualities needed to untie the knot that the human realm is in, qualities of interconnectedness and attunement to the whole; visions arise of humanity finding a balanced way—as other creatures have—of serving the common good, of sharing, of cooperation. We’re inspired to assess how we’re doing in upholding our responsibility to be caretakers of the earth so that future generations can enjoy a healthy environment and the inspiration of natural beauty.

Taking the long view, science tells us that the universe is around 14 billion years old, and that the earth emerged about 3.6 billion years ago.[2] The eye evolved only around 550 million years ago;[3] hearing didn’t come into being until 350 million years ago.[4] We live in a pivotal time, given the magnitude of distress signals our planet is emitting and the enormity of the problems threatening our world. It’s clear we now need to develop new eyes and ears, a perspective beyond the industrial model that is threatening the very life web on which we depend, to listen to nature, to form a partnership and heal what is out of balance.

As one scientist put it, “I believe people are capable of amazing things and I do believe that climate change can be halted and even reversed. I just hope it happens in my lifetime. I don’t want to become the generation that future children talk of as having destroyed the planet. I’d like to be the generation that fought back (and won) against human induced climate change. The generation that worked out how to live in harmony with the planet — that generation!”[5]

The Mount Shasta Earth Day event at City Park on Sunday April 22 will be an opportunity for people to come together and further develop our new eyes and ears as a community. It’s a time of heightened awareness of our interdependence with all life, of earth’s gifts, and of the far-reaching effects of human choices.

[1] City of Mt. Shasta Earth Day 2018 Proclamation



[4] Evolution: A hint at how hearing evolved. (2015). Nature, 518(7538), 141.

[5]Dr. Jenie Mallela, Australian National University,