By Rolf Winters
These days always leave me somewhat puzzled, as I think these matters are equally important on all 365 days a year. In a world where these seemingly natural elements of society have shifted to the background, however, it is important to specifically highlight them to bring back communal consciousness. In the meantime, let us not forget: every day is Earth Day.
The theme for this year’s official Earth Day campaign is ‘Environmental and Climate Literacy’. We see education as something being delivered to us in schools, through books and teachers. In the same vein, literacy for us means being able to read books and texts. If we develop our climate literacy, we would therefore be capable of understanding the academic concepts pertaining to the subject.
If we look at education and literacy in a slightly different way, we see something else: nearly all the Earth Keepers in DOWN to EARTH are illiterate when it comes to our definition of the term. But when it comes to knowing about nature, no one is more literate or educated than they are. They can ‘read’ the environment around them flawlessly, without ever having touched a book on the subject..
What’s important to take away from this is that learning about the environment should not just be about learning to reproduce the concepts, it should be about empowering ourselves and others to take our responsibility towards the Earth. Only when we fully understand our position in this interconnected world, and comprehend how our actions always have a consequence somewhere else, even if we do not directly see the effect, will we take charge in using our actions for the good. When we tap into this knowledge, we will realise that if we take better care of the planet, she will better care for us.
A few months ago I facilitated a dialogue after a screening of DOWN to EARTH. Most responses from the audience were positive, however, one man vocalised that seeing the film made him feel powerless and lost. He said he felt like Don Quixote, an imbecile fighting a useless battle. His comment and analogy made me think. Later I realised that the answer to his questions were in the question itself. Don Quixote tried to fight forty windmills, thinking they were giants. He created an imaginary enemy, whereas he would have been better off directing his energy toward another goal.
After seeing DOWN to EARTH some viewers feel daunted about fighting an enormous giant: ‘the system’. However, what the Earth Keepers try to tell us is to aim our energy at something different: ourselves. We are the ones that can bring about a positive change. We have to take the initiative to do something, no matter how big or small. We cannot wait for the others to deal with our giants.
Nowaten says in the film: “…when you realise that you’re not satisfied with the way things are, you start being a seeker. Not looking for somebody else’s truth, but your own.”
Every day is Earth Day. So what are YOU going to do?