Last week we celebrated Earth Day, established (in a sense) by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in 1970. Nelson’s idea was to sponsor a nationwide “teach-in,” like those held on college campuses by the anti-war movement, but with the environment and overpopulation as a focus. We’ve come a long way, baby. Now Earth Day has become an industry.
Last week we celebrated Earth Day, established (in a sense) by Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin in 1970. Nelson’s idea was to sponsor a nationwide “teach-in,” like those held on college campuses by the anti-war movement, but with the environment and overpopulation as a focus.
We’ve come a long way, baby. Now Earth Day has become an industry. Earth Day greeting cards and stationary and T-shirts are available everywhere. Retailers, like Target, invite you to “Go Green” by purchasing their products on Earth day. Even retail giant Wal-Mart marked Earth Day by announcing the creation of 3,000 new jobs.
President Obama issued the obligatory Earth Day proclamation, saying that, “No issue deserves more immediate attention …” The National Mall in Washington, D.C., saw a crowd (albeit, a relatively small one) launch “The Green Generation.” There were plenty of speeches and smiling celebrities.
I think Earth Day is a good thing. It is, however, competing in a crowded field. There is Grandparent’s Day, Secretary’s Day and World AIDS Day. Then there are the lesser-known special day observances: World Poetry Day, World Meteorological Day and, a personal favorite, International Tartan Day.
In fact, almost every day makes some claim for world attention.
On April 22, earth had its day in the sun, as is only right. I am, I admit, rather fond of the place, and would very much like to keep it. It has been a great home.
In celebration of Earth Day, I went — as I do most other days — for a two-mile walk and enjoyed the earth. Whether or not I’m “green” I don’t know, but my car gets over 30 miles to a gallon of gas, I keep my carbon footprint small (it is the only small footprint I have), recycle batteries and plastics, and dispose of hazardous materials safely.
That we should take care of the earth God gave us seems like a no-brainer to me. How we should go about it, however, is not so clear.
A precarious balance is required. We must be careful not to place the immediate health of our economy above the long-term health of our planet, but we must not place the care of the planet over the care of its inhabitants. The long border where those issues converge is cast in a deep shade of gray.
The earth is a priceless gift, but it makes a poor god. We do well to cherish it, but we are unwise to worship it. If Earth Day reminds us that we are responsible to God for our stewardship of the planet, if it motivates us to preserve the earth’s resources and instructs us how to do so, it has served us well. The next step is to make every day an Earth Day. That would be even better.
The observance of Earth Day has inspired me to suggest another celebration. I realize that the field for special days is already crowded, but I think we should inaugurate a new one: Heaven Day.
Let’s set aside a day to celebrate the opening of the bridge between heaven and earth. The blockade has been lifted, the barriers removed. Heaven, the first and only sustainable living community, awaits those who have faith. If that doesn’t deserve a special day, nothing does.
But wait! We just did celebrate that. We called it Easter.
The chasm, Christians believe, between earth and heaven has been spanned. The bridge between them, curiously constructed in the shape of a Roman cross, was planted on Middle Eastern soil and reached to heaven’s gate. Jesus, known as the “Pioneer of salvation” was the first to cross, and has led the way. That is something to celebrate.
Now the next step is to turn every day into Heaven Day. That would be even better.
While I’m on the subject of special days, I should mention that Sept. 13, International Chocolate Day, will be on us before we know it. It might be wise to start making plans now. But I probably don’t have to tell you that!
The Daily Reporter (Coldwater, Mich.)