Changing the way we think
(about the Earth)
I can still hear it as it rolled down the mountain side. “Rackety-rack! Clackety-clack!” It missed every big tree along the way. It plowed over some smaller ones. Somehow it steered its way through the other man-made appliances strewn across the landscape. The old washing machine made it all the way down to the creek, where it plopped and stopped. Where it still sits today, fifty-some years later.
Dad and I had hauled the old washer up there in his homemade trailer behind his station wagon. Hauled it all the way to the top of the old dump above the Sunnybrook subdivision in Bristol, Tn.
I was excited. “We’re gonna toss her so good she’ll roll all the way down to the creek!” said Dad. And we did.
Please don’t feel too angry or disgusted toward my dad and me. What I just described is what many good people did back in the day when our appliances broke down; we hauled them up to the dump and tossed them away. There was no such thing as recycling available to us. There existed no well-known proper place to dispose of such things.
The thing was, this place was no “official” dump. It was a beautiful mountainside with a sparkling stream at the bottom. But pretty much everyone I knew in Sunnybrook dumped their bigger trash items up there.
I visited the old dump just last week. I saw countless tires, refrigerators, ironing boards, even an old Coke machine, among the many other items still there.
Nature has tried valiantly to take back the land. As always, she has done her miraculous best. Given half a chance, Nature can heal a heckuva lot of manmade damage. New trees now shoot upward. Flowers bloom up all around the rubber and metal. The stream still sparkles and babbles down at the bottom, where over half a century later that old washer still sits … now halfway rusted away.
The very next month after dad and I dumped that old washer, something special happened. Something very special. Something so special that it changed the way many people think (which is a powerful thing indeed). It was called Earth Day.
No, we didn’t all change the way we think about the Earth all at once. In fact, many of us still haven’t changed yet, though that doesn’t stop the rest of us from changing, and caring, and celebrating.
The 53rd celebration of Earth Day happened last weekend, April 22. Unfortunately, many people likely didn’t even give it much of a passing thought, let alone celebrate. Equally unfortunately, many of the people who did at least celebrate a bit won’t give it much of a thought until the next Earth Day. Like most things in life, it all has to do with the way we think.
We can all learn to celebrate Earth Day. Every day. Indeed, we can celebrate in the way Dad and I began to do fifty-some years ago; we can change the way we think. And the best way to change the way we think, my friends, is to be open-minded about the facts. Unlike opinions, facts are the same for us all. (Now whether we choose to face up to facts or not is altogether another matter.)
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