In a rare superimposition of holidays, today marks both Earth Day and Good Friday. These two special days are a study in contrasts, yet both are holidays that look forward and hope for salvation. Good Friday, the culminating drama of Holy Week, is often paradoxically treated as a day of mourning. If Christian theology be correct, humanity would be Hell-bound without it. Yet many of the faithful weep as if for Tammuz, knowing that resurrection is just two days away. Earth Day, much more recent in origin, is much more ancient in importance. Biology as we know it, whether human or divine, would have no place to call home without Earth. Earth Day began in 1970, but every day is an Earth day for most of us.
Still buzzing with 1960’s activism, on the first Earth Day 20 million demonstrators got involved and helped lead the way to the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the founding of the Environmental Protection Agency. People cared. This was before fashionable complacency set in. Whatever. Today citizens of the United States get stirred up about very little. Good Friday may represent a school holiday for some, others may even go to church although it is not Sunday. But get worked up? Hardly. Legislators in our country drag their feet like spoiled children when it comes to reducing emissions (many politicians positively treasure their emissions) or paying for cleanup of what we’ve done to our planet. Let our children inherit the dearth.
While bully governors seek to slash and burn, it is the responsibility of more reasonable individuals to try to repair the damage their leaders do. This is the spirit of Earth Day. Our leaders make the mess, those of us who care try to do something about it. Good Friday shows what happens when an idealist challenges the imperial status quo. Long-haired liberals get nailed, and guys in expensive suits cut themselves bigger and bigger checks while orphaning those who get in their way. Gaia was never crucified, but that doesn’t stop Neo-Cons from trying to rape her. Just a year on from Deepwater Horizon and oil companies argue they are legally within their bounds not to permanently seal off caps that “meet regulations.” Their friends the politicians politely look the other way. If things are going to get better I suggest that we leave official policy hanging on a cross and do our own best effort to save our mother’s life.