This room is full of people with such passion, compassion and commitment. That you all for the work you do. Thank you, Billy, for bringing us together—you have a huge, overflowing heart and we all feel it. I want to shift the conversations a bit. All of us here are smart, accomplished, intellectual. We are usually living in our heads, working on policy, research, ideas. But we need to spend more time in our hearts and bodies—the other 90% of ourselves that we typically ignore. Take a moment to breathe, turn our attention to our hearts.
When I heard on NPR as I was driving the other day that an estimated 1 BILLION animals had died in Australia’s wildfires, my heart actually hurt and I wept all the way home. I don’t know how others digested that statistic. . . . 1 billion. This death and destruction we are witnessing around the world, the suffering of animals, humans, trees, rivers is not separate from us. As indigenous people all over the world remind us, but we capitalists have conveniently forgotten, we are energetically connected to everything around us. It is simple physics. So when death and destruction happen to the “other”, it is also happening to us. And we know it is certainly coming to us, even in our fortunate and comfortable circumstances.
The environmental crisis is in reality a spiritual crisis born of our disconnection and separation from the natural world from which we all evolved, and that sustains us and gifts us all we need to thrive. The planet is yelling to us. Telling us to wake up. Wildfires on every continent. Permafrost melting, releasing methane. Earthquakes. Volcanoes. Raging storms. Mass extinction. Companies dumping untold quantities of chemicals into our ecosystems and ultimately our bodies—our body burden is tremendous. Why are we so casual? If humanity were more consciously connected to all around us, we would be acting as if our house were burning down, as Greta, our EarthGuardian friends and our indigenous brothers and sisters on all continents constantly remind us. When we connect to our hearts, bodies and the natural world, our words and actions become more authentic and have more integrity. In order to have integrity, be true to ourselves, and honor the natural world we are born from and born into, our actions have to match our words. We have to walk the walk. We have to ask ourselves if, in our daily lives, we are acting our words. Are we practicing what we preach? With our choices and decisions every day, are we voting FOR the planet or AGAINST it? Each of our decisions and purchases is either supporting the natural world or hurting it. We have to set the example, the standard. Our children need us to change, to consume less and smarter. I invite you to make changes, big or small, it all counts. Carry a reusable water bottle, coffee cup, utensils, straws, food containers for leftovers so that you never have to compromise and use plastic. Adjust your house thermostat to heat or cool less. Eat organic, pasture raised foods as much as you can, and eliminate or reduce your meat consumption Travel less and closer to home. Source your energy from renewable energy. You all know more things you can do, too. And keep doing your important environmental work. All these things count and matter. Invite others to join you in making these essential changes. Let’s start an avalanche of change that can’t be denied or reversed. Evolution teaches us: Change or die, evolve or die. It is incumbent upon us, the leaders of the environmental community to lead this evolution. If not us, then who?