Sitting here, overlooking the canyon behind my house on a Saturday morning, I watch as two hawks fly over head. Then, across the canyon, there is rustling in the bushes. Coyotes are playing, wrestling, in this little spot of nature carved out between Mediterranean and English Tudor houses, gazebos and swimming pools. And I think to myself, how beautiful this world must have been before humans lost their way.
There was a time, so long ago that none of us have the memory, that we understood our place in this ecosystem...one of many animals, making our home and trying to survive in harmony with our surroundings and fellow sentient beings. When we slept on the Earth, as animals do. When we took shelter from the rains when they came if we could. When we huddled close together at night for warmth, and safety. And when we wrestled, and played, like coyotes in the morning sun.
I watched, and I thought. Then, the question occurred to me...what have humans done to better this planet?
And I stood, trying to come up with an answer.
The truth was, every answer I came up with, was something we have done in response to ourselves.
Everything I could think of was humans saving the planet from humans.
Whether it was the National Park system, or Nature Reserves, or recycling programs, or electric cars, or unleaded gasoline, or organic farming, or animal sanctuaries, all of it was to fix something we had already broken.
Nature didn't used to need reserves, or gated off areas, to ensure her survival. We didn't have to get in our cars, with our special foot wear and breathable clothing, to venture into the "outdoors". Heck, the whole world was the outdoors.
The ocean didn't need a plastics clean up program. The turtles, dolphins, whales and others didn't need rescuers to cut six pack rings, or fishing lines from their bodies.
We didn't need petitions to save the tigers, or Black rhinos, or elephants from ourselves. We didn't need petitions to stop ourselves from drilling in the Arctic, or stop fracking, or to stop mining.
We didn't need organizations like the Sierra Club, or Greenpeace, or the World Wildlife Fund to defend the planet from humans. We didn't need an entire legal organization, like the Environmental Defense Fund, to protect our world from ourselves.
Communities didn't need recycling programs, because we used what we had. We didn't need disposable yogurt cups, and sippy cups, and Starbucks cups. We didn't need everything in to-go containers to be used once and tossed in the trash...because there was no trash. We didn't have a magical truck that appeared and happily took all our waste away. We lived with what we made.
And our lives were central, community based. We had yet to know the joy of driving for 45 minutes, circling for 15 minutes to park, going into a giant metal building and shopping for an hour for another pair of shoes. Because we had important things to deal with, like food, shelter, water, and survival.
We didn't need stickers on foods in grocery stores to tell us which ones had been sprayed with chemicals, because there were no chemicals. We didn't have governments telling us how long to run sprinklers on our lawn, because we knew the value of water. We didn't need an endangered species list, because we weren't killing things off to the point of extinction. The world was in balance. Until we took a sledgehammer, and knocked it right off.
So, I stand there, and imagine. Imagine what the world could have been like, if we used all that time, and effort, and money and resources for bettering our world. And then I realize, the world already had it right. The world was perfect already.
So, instead, I imagine what if we had remembered ourselves. What if we remembered what we have forgotten. That we are part of life. That we are part of nature. That we are animals, just like the others, that walk upon the Earth. What if we had never forgotten that we are wild?
Then we wouldn't need campaigns to remind us to go outside. To remind us to look up. To watch the stars. To put down our devices, and see each other. We wouldn't need ads on television telling us how to live. Because we would already know. We would be in balance. We would be outside, on a Saturday morning, in wide open spaces, playing in the sun.
And then the question, "what has mankind done for planet Earth?" would not be so impossible to answer.