Underfoot 11/26/22

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Watching a video on my social media page, a gaggle of dogs are running past a camera to a song that I’d not hear before because, clearly, it was country and I don’t listen to that particular genre of music.  Part of the lyrics (and I’m paraphrasing here) went something like “with the whole world under your feet”.  Although I am certain that this is not the intended meaning by the author of this song, it nonetheless got me thinking about the Native people’s view of the world. 

Regardless of the interpretation, it’s an interesting metaphor.  Regardless of how it might be interpreted, it’s also the literal truth.  Local geological structures notwithstanding, you are standing (or sitting or reclining) on top of a parcel of earth.  Because of the curvature of the earth, if the world were flat, that means that from your personal perspective, you are literally on top of the world.  Everything else, and everybody else, is literally beneath you.  Some far more obviously than others, as you cannot see the difference between you and the person next to you since the curvature is too slight for us to literally see, but you know that China is literally on the other side of the world.

I believe that the song probably meant that you have everything at your feet.  You can run, jump, and take advantage of all that the world has to offer.  And we do.  We are still highly reliant on oil that we drill from under our feet to move, generate heat and electricity and create consumer products.  We mine for salt to spice our foods and take foods from the ground in the form of vegetables, grains, fruits and, indirectly, meats.  We compress the earth as we roll over it with our vehicles and trample on it to get to the doors of that concert before it begins. 

The whole world is under our feet.

The Native people refer to her as “Mother Earth”.  In their beliefs, everything springs from under our feet, which is why earth is thought of as “Mother”.  Mother Earth feeds us those vegetables and fruits and grains.  Mother Earth supports us as we move around on her face.  Mother Earth provides the minerals, ores, and oils under her surface.  Everything we are, everything we have, everything we will ever be is because Mother Earth has provided it to us. 

With this perspective, it makes me wonder how often we think of how much we take from Mother Earth.  Babies suckle at their mothers drawing nutrients necessary for survival never once thinking of the source of their food, or what they might be doing to their mothers and her body by taking it from them.  This is not an indictment, because mothers know what they are doing, are (sometimes painfully) aware of the sacrifice they are giving to their infants, and provide that nutrition happily despite the stress on their own bodies. 

But we are no longer infants.  We have the intelligence to actually think about our impact on our own Mother Earth if we choose to do so.  As I write this, an international climate meeting has (as I understand it) just concluded.  It doesn’t sound to me as if much progress was made as some nations were fighting against the goals of previous meetings, while simultaneously agreeing to a relief fund for loss due to changing weather and environment due to the very global warming that they are fighting against.  It’s intriguing to me how politicians can be so opposed to environmental issues such as global warming until it comes time to actually take action.  The dollar is still higher value to them than life itself. 

Mother Earth is ill, and it’s because of us.  Sinkholes are cropping up as we remove precious oils and leave her with cavities under her surface.  Global warming is causing a fever in her, resulting in dramatic weather flooding out homes, drought drying up our lakes and rivers, and deforestation resulting in less carbon dioxide being cleaned out of the atmosphere.  This Mother Earth that we all trample on is struggling under our feet, so the question becomes what we will do about it.

If there is a lesson to be learned from politics it’s that we cannot depend on politicians.  It’s up to us to think about our Mother and take care of Earth, one person, one child at a time.  Do we have to give up on all of our Earthly comforts?  Of course not.  We cannot.  We still need to eat, but if things don’t change Mother Earth will stop providing us food.  We still need electricity and heat, but if we don’t find new sources then Mother Earth will no longer be able to safely provide the fossil fuels to do so.  But small changes, over hundreds of millions of people, add up.  Since learning of the global warming crisis, have you, in the name of conservation, lowered your thermostat in the winter or raised it in the summer just a degree or two?  Have you given up trips, or carpooled, or taken public transportation in the name of conservation, or purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle?  All I’m asking of my readers is just to take a moment to think about the impact we have on the entire earth beneath our feet.  Be aware of it, and think about how to minimize this impact.  For our children.

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