The ocean waves pounded the shore on Wednesday after the election, mimicking the sentiments and frustration of coastal Californians. Willow leaves along the creek fell to the ground with a pitter patter like tears of sadness. A midnight yip of a coyote blended into a nightmare about a world regressing from essential values and human rights.
Nature can reflect our emotions. It can emanate strong feelings instead of us internalizing pain, fear, disappointment. A perception of the natural world expressing grief, even despair, can dampen a gut-wrenching, blood-curdling sentiment.
The natural world comforts and consoles. A monarch butterfly flying by leaves a flutter of hope. A sighting of a pair of beautiful wood ducks gives a sense of peace. Morning dewdrops, the smell of eucalyptus, a fantastic fall sunset help us get beyond gloom, ready to confront reality.
While nature can mirror rage and provide comfort, it can also offer a framework for healthy, harmonious living through embracing diversity, understanding interconnectedness and teaching empathy.
In ecology, biodiversity is the number of different species that live together. A tidepool dominated by only barnacles is not diverse; one that supports many species of seaweed, anemones, crabs, snails, and urchins is diverse and an indicator of a healthy ecosystem. Each species has its own unique function. A diverse gene pool and different habitats preserve the existence of life on Earth. An ecosystem with high biodiversity is able to withstand disturbance and natural disasters. Healthy air, soil, and water all depend on biodiversity.
All beings on this planet are connected. To draw lines and exclude is to fragment and weaken a system. Birds migrate from the Arctic to the southern hemisphere; they know no borders. Nature teaches us to embrace a global perspective.
Respect and empathy are virtues that can be taught through observing and understanding nature. Each child is born with an innate fascination of bugs, a flower, a bird song. This intuition must endure to a life-long ethic that everything and everyone has a right to live safely, respected and honored for who and what they are.
Like a river changing course, we must flow with the circumstances. As diverted water regains momentum, each passionate, embracing person must do their part to work for a peaceful future. As an environmental educator, I must focus and encourage the growth of nature and outdoor education across our country. Lessons from nature education teach tolerance, connection and empathy.
Change naturally takes time. With the ability to adapt, we can evolve to become more accepting, respectful, prosperous beings.