"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead
Most people don't understand the plight of Earth and all living things. They go about their daily lives without so much as a care about the world around them. But that myopia has led us to the situation we are in today, which is dire. Burying our heads in the sand is no longer an option. We must face reality. Now.
Our natural resources are finite, not endless. We depend on nature to supply us with fresh water, but as the climate warms, we cannot rely on melting snow that never fell. The atmosphere and air we breathe is under constant threat from pollution and other byproducts we humans create in our endless quest for a lifestyle filled with modern conveniences. The delicate balance of biodiversity that holds our ecosystems in check is precipitously hanging on the edge of the cliff, with only a few claws gripping the edge. These are such an overwhelming problems that most people don't know what to do.
Changing of the world is not easy. We must start by changing our own personal behavior. We must accept the notion we can be happy with fewer material possessions, and success is not gauged by financial wealth but by the quality of the relationships we share with other people, animals and nature. Only then will the Earth's situation begin to improve.
To facilitate this major shift in paradigm, we need everyone to buy in, including our governments and businesses. As leaders driving our society forward, they will need to be at the forefront of implementing this change, and they need to do so rapidly. We must demonstrate our desire for this change by voting in elections for the people who understand Earth's problems and are committed to solving them. We must spend our dollars with the companies who make products in an ethical, sustainable manner.
In Namibia, the conservation programs we administer through Cheetah Conservation Fund integrate people's needs and livelihoods with the needs of the land and the environment in which they live. We believe that by looking at the community as a whole and carefully addressing the needs of all living creatures, we can maintain the delicate balance of biodiversity and conserve the ecosystem for generations to come.
To celebrate Earth Day, I encourage you to engage others around you in discussion about our basic human values and the definition of happiness. I believe you will find that many more people than expected will agree that less is more, and that true happiness is not found in a new car or the latest technological gadget, but in the connections we have to the living creatures whose lives are supported by our planet. Even if they do not agree, you will have challenged their way of thinking and perhaps planted the seed of behavior change that will take root and one day bloom. This is a great way of showing respect for the Earth on April 22, 2015. By banding together on this day with this mission in mind, a small group of thoughtful, committed people can indeed change the world.
From the perspective of Founder and Executive Director of Cheetah Conservation Fund -- by engaging in these discussions, you will also be helping ensure the cheetah and other endangered species have a place on Earth both today, and in the future.
Happy Earth Day!