"Ever mindful what it cost; Ever grateful for the prize..." ~ Joseph Hopkinson
Every April showers us with special events and holidays. There's Publicity Stunt Week, Straw Hat Week, National Reading a Road Map Week, National Coin Tasting Week (ya'... really!), Argue About Gun Safety Week (did I already say ya'...really?), National Bubblegum Week, National Lingerie Week and the not-to-be-forgotten Egg Salad Week. But squished into the tail end of the month is just one day devoted to our planet... Earth Day. Just 1/365th solitary moment in the whole expanse of a year devoted to the place we all call home. Not even a month or a week, just a day.
Well, the truth be told, Earth "Day" gets even a bit more confusing because with the same name but two different dates on the calendar, the United Nations has Earth Day penned into their agenda for late March but the rest of us global citizens celebrate it officially on April 22nd. In any event, I suppose we should be grateful that there are actually two days a year dedicated to arouse our sensitivity for our delicate mother-ship, planet Earth.
The United Nation's date (the 21st of March) is when we mark the beginning of the Vernal Equinox by welcoming in the first signs of spring -- early bulbs breaking through the thawing ground, though often left to survive the dangers and unpredictability of foreboding late snow flurries and frost. Ever-hopeful, the days begin to grow longer, and nature begins to stir from under the four-month long frozen blanket of winter.
The lifelong activist and Earth Day founder John McConnell believed that love and prayer were more powerful than the destructive nature of man, and suggested his dream of Earth Day at a UNESCO Conference on the Environment in 1969. In hopes of celebrating the Earth's life and beauty, McConnell created the Earth Day Proclamation for Global Awareness, detailing mankind's responsibility for stewarding, cleaning and preserving our planet for future generations.
In 1970, the April 22nd event that ultimately blossomed into the more widely recognized Earth Day was founded by seeds originally planted by Senator Gaylord Nelson. Using activist tactics, he organized huge college grassroots protests over what he saw happening to the environment. With only limited media coverage to get the ball rolling, 20 million demonstrators, and thousands of schools and local communities participated, with each year bringing greater and greater awareness and activity to the issue.
But regardless of when it is celebrated, whenever I hear the name "Earth Day," what first comes to mind for me is the word "care." And interestingly, "care" is one of those rare words that implies the notion of both "giving" and "taking."
Let me explain.
We can "give care" or we can "take care." (And it's easy to confuse the two but they are really very different things.) By "taking care" we lose ourselves in private, thoughtful, reflective, and introspective, self-preservation. By "giving care" we offer help, aid or support to those around us -- an external activity. Both are equally important, for without taking care, we have no care to offer.
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