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Observing Earth Day Amidst a Pandemic

I am a hard core optimist, and can generally see something positive even in the worst of circumstances. If I was told that I had 6 months left to live, I imagine myself saying, “Yes, but at least I’ll never have to have another mammogram or colonoscopy again.”

And so it is with COVID-19. In the middle of sheer hell, I also see goodness and kindness all around me. I particularly see it in the environment. Greenhouse gas emissions are down. The air quality is improving. The water around Venice is cleaner. Wildlife is more visible in urban areas. No longer subjected to endless traffic noise, people in New York City are hearing bird songs outside of their windows.

However, as much as I want us to be good stewards of our planet, a pandemic is not the way to achieve this. We can’t trade human lives and livelihood for a greener planet. There is no reason why healthy people and a healthy planet can’t coexist.

This 50th Earth Day, perhaps we can reflect on how we can be better caretakers of our fragile planet, and in doing so, of each other. A poem by Catherine M. O’Meara invites us to think beyond our fears. It begins, “And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.” Click here to read the entire poem.

I hope I am learning new ways of being, ways that pay reverence to mother earth and her inhabitants. COVID-19 is teaching me to slow down, play in the garden, and tell others how much I love them. What new ways of being are you learning during this pandemic?

If you want to read more about COVID-19 or other health-related issues, I am also blogging at hepmag.com.

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