We are so small.
We just don't understand it all.
We can't even comprehend it.
But, at that waterfall as 18 high school freshmen stood completely silent and self-reflective, I felt my strong ecosystem/universal ethos begin to calm down. I watched as the silent students, standing in a circle around the falls, linked up hands and felt the energies of the people around them. The silence was broken as each of them, one by one, said one word that described the entirety of the experience.
My word? "Gravitation"
The quote that came to me was from Albert Einstein. "Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love."
Yes, the universal natural forces exist. Yes, we don't understand them, and we should. Yes, we are destroying our environment at a rapid pace, and yes, I still want to fight for that cause.
But there is also a force, a power within people that we will never totally be able to understand and that even the universal force has no control over, and it is important in our fight for environmental sustainability to remember that fact. Call it altruism, but if you have ever felt the energy from a place and a group of people who are passionate, you know there is more. Altruism simply isn't strong enough to produce that energy. Though I am not quite sure what to call this power, I am not sure if it matters. I think Albert would agree: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
In the environmental movement, it is easy to highlight how greedy we are, how much we consume, or how idiotic we are with fragile resources. But attacking these character flaws will never solve our environmental concerns. Highlighting the unbelievable power of people will.
Is it possible that developing love, gratitude, and respect for other people to the highest reaches of human potential can solve our environmental problems? It seems ridiculous, but perhaps that love and gratitude can drive people to be well, feel better (that is actually proven), and consume less in order to understand more about themselves and others. Perhaps it will empower them to put all of their energies into developing environmental technologies that will save us. Perhaps it is time the environmental movement tried a love-based, people-powered approach. Perhaps it is time that chemistry teachers across the world devote less of their curriculum to thermochemistry and more of their time to allowing students to learn to accept gratitude and energy from the world and people around them, and to express their art in new and innovative ways that reflect that energy.
Again, I think Albert would agree: "Love is a better teacher than duty."
Do you agree or disagree - when we realize our human potential and highest selves, we are impassioned to improve the environment as well?
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