en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthrise#/media/File:NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-Earthrise.jpg; Public Domain
The missive from last week contained a quote from the Dhammapada:
Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the greatest wealth, a trusted friend is the best relative, Nibbana is the greatest bliss.
After experiencing a few days of sickness, hearing of a friend’s parent passing after a long illness, and running into someone taking care of a parent who had been seriously injured, that quote certainly took on renewed meaning.
This quote doesn’t just apply to a single person. We might wish to expand it to include our neighborhoods, town, province, country, and world. In the largest case, the health of the world translates into a healthy environment. Only when the air is unbreathable (Paradise, CA), the water undrinkable (Flint, MI), and the soil unfit for growing (1930’s Dust Bowl), does one really realize how important health and vitality of an ecosystem is to your own personal life.
When we get sick, either through environmental factors, or by poor judgement (as many a young adult has said, the morning after an eventful night of carousing and indulging, “I’ll never drink again!”), we do seem to forget. Why is this? When you get sick, or when your air no longer becomes breathable, your generally react strongly – “This? This?! This is unacceptable! This is intolerable! Never again! Never again!” But next week, next month… people are at it again, repeating their behaviors.
When you are young, you heal more easily, and perhaps, forget more quickly. But as you get older, you remember that healing takes a long time, and that those accumulated scars bring some wisdom. But another question rises up – some older people care more as they get older, and some less. For some, they realize that what they are leaving to the younger generations isn’t fair, and act accordingly. For others, they say, “I won’t be here when it happens,” and blithely move along. How do these worldviews arise? Some children of rich parents are spoiled; some are hard workers – how does this discrepancy arise? What sort of ecological upbringing could we do to make people more aware of our greatest gift (a healthy environment)?
As always, more questions than answers.