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Show appreciation for Mother Earth

Jackie Mirandola Mullen | Monday, April 21, 2008

What does Earth Day mean to you?I know, I know. You probably sit there night after night, mulling over this question. Finals and papers are of course far from your mind (of course). Tax day is just a blip on the radar screen, a week-left marker before the big event that’s on your calendar. But as the spring weather draws you from your studying, maybe you’re appreciating the Earth more than you care to admit.Earth Day. Apr. 22. The first Earth Day ever was Apr. 22, 1970. It was initiated by a senator from Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, who envisioned a “nation-wide grassroots demonstration” (good pun, too, Senator). It worked – there were protests, demonstrations and rallies.That was the first environmental movement. Associated with hippies, tree-huggers, peace-lovers, war-protesters – nothing in the norm, everything radical. College kids. Bums. Definitely not upper-middle class, working America. And yet the holiday stuck. It’s now a national holiday – but does everyone know that?We learn about Earth Day in elementary school now, maybe make some paper-mache animals or plant a tree for it, and listen to the evening news blurb covering some local rally. My sister’s birthday is on Earth Day and I remember her buying the Habitat for Humanity “Earth Day is Every Day” T-shirt. I liked the shirt, too, because of all the pretty animals around the picture of the globe, but she got dibs because of the birthday double-entendre.But what is Earth Day? We liked the shirt, we heard the news story, we see the marked date on all of our calendars but do we observe it?I once asked my mom why there wasn’t a “Kids’ Day,” since we have both Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day. She told me every day is kids’ day. A day commemorating something is intended to allow you to do just that – commemorate it. Take a minute to appreciate what you otherwise take for granted. Kids are always appreciated because of the nature of parenthood but parents need occasional affirmation that their efforts – their sacrifice – is worthwhile and appreciated.Do we appreciate the Earth’s sacrifice? I’m back to the hippie celebration of our Mother now. But stop and bracket “hippie” for just one minute. The earth gives us life. All of our resources come from the earth. Everything man-made is man-made from materials that originated within the earth. We are one closed ecosystem, we have one (albeit enormous) mass of atoms that isn’t going to change too much, even with our efforts to defy the limits of earth’s boundaries and resources.We take, we use, we trample, and still we ignore the warnings that Earth sends us. We “pave paradise and put up a parking lot” (thanks Joni Mitchell) then wonder why streams are going dry and soil erosion is uncontrollable.Parents need that day of appreciation to feel loved. It’s easy to take advantage of someone or something that’s always there and sometimes in the way of what you really want to do. Children see their parents as an obstacle to desires, often, despite the fact that the parents provide for and bend to the child and really make life possible. Maybe the Earth never tried to enforce your curfew, but admit it – you were peeved when the downpour started just as you were going outside to play Frisbee. But didn’t you like that shower you just took? That water you drank with dinner? The fact that you can flush the toilet, wash your hands, eat off of clean plates?How do you want to appreciate the earth? Maybe planting a tree isn’t the best way. It’s nice to get your mom a present for Mother’s Day, but think of how happy she is when you do those little things for her all year long. In any relationship, the best way to show you care is through sustaining the love. Showing you care through your lifestyle.Reflect on it. In what way do you fail to appreciate the resources of this earth – the flawless seams that so fragilely balance. The interwoven lives that support our own existence are often outside of our realm of knowledge and our disruptions to the pattern go unnoticed by us. If we want to benefit from the Earth’s capabilities, shouldn’t we recognize and support them, as well?So this Earth Day, decide what it means to you. Do you show your mother you care the whole year round? Do you sustain the love? Or do you just send a present to counteract any guilt that might otherwise creep up on you in the upcoming year? You have a day before this year’s Earth day – still time to find that present – but you have the rest of your life to show your appreciation.

Jackie Mirandola Mullen is a sophomore History and German major. She is a fan of trees, although unlike fans and the shade of trees, she does not cool you off on a hot summer’s day. She can be reached at jmirando@nd.eduThe views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer