50 years ago an iconic picture from space gave us a real sense of the planet when the image Earth Rising was taken by one of the Astronats. The wonderful writer Bill McKibben has reflected on this recently in the Huffington Post and also outlined how the world has changed.
The image brought a sense of hope then., he says. It was the inspiration for the first Earth Day. The Silent Spring had been published. The Grand Canyon had been saved. Here’s what McKibben quotes Margaret Mead saying about that era:
“Earth Day is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space,”
There was a brief period when the idea of limits to growth had traction - but McKibben notes that it didn’t last and quotes Margaret Thatcher’s contrasting “There is no such thing as society. There are only individual men and women and their families.” Decades later this is an all too common prevailing view where we live off the earth instead of on it. In watching a show on Netflix recently, I was disheartened to hear a cosmologist join the voices of the Silicon Valley mega-millionaires who looked forward to space travel so that we can “colonize” some other planet. That’s madness. Read the full article from the link above. The scientists warn us - but it may have to be the poets that move us:
You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
There is no one but us.