Earth Day—April 22—marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.
In 1969 people first landed on the moon and saw the beautiful blue planet for the first time from space – in the classic photo known as “earth rising”. For the first time there was a consciousness of humans being part of something greater than a nation, we are all living on one planet .
At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity.
Earth Day 1970 gave voice to an emerging environmental consciousness, channelling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns on the front page.
The idea for a national day to focus on the environment came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda.
On April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.
Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.
Over the years Earth Day has become a huge international movement. 192 countries around the globe now celebrate
Earth Day, the biggest civic and secular event in the world today. Today we need Earth day more than ever!
The Diocesan service was held at St Stephens, Pinelands and was put together by the youth
Here are the opening words:
We do not exist outside of nature or above nature or independent of nature –we are simply its most vulnerable part. (Joan Chittister)
O God, Holy Spirit, whose breath gives life to the world
and whose voice is heard in the soft breeze
we need your strength and wisdom.
Come to us and among us;
Come as the wind and cleanse us.
We join with your creation and with each other.
- St Stephens Pinelands performed a beautiful dance to the words of Jabulani “Jesus river of life in our dusty land”
- Readings were led by the youth of St Chads, Table View.
- Chris Smith preached a homily encouraged the youth to care for creation
- St faiths Epping performed a wonderful dance to the song “footprints in the sand”
- Ncumisa Magadla from Green anglicans shared the challenge of the 1 trillion secret nuclear deal
Disregard for the duty to cultivate and maintain a proper relationship with my neighbour, for whose care and custody I am responsible, ruins my relationship with my own self, with others, with God and with the earth. When all these relationships are neglected, when justice no longer dwells in the land, the Bible tells us that life itself is endangered. (Pope francis, Laudato Si, no 70)
The service ended with the beautiful words of Colours of the wind from Pocahontas
You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
You think the only people who are people
Are the people who look and think like you
But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew, you never knew
Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon
Or asked the grinning bobcat why he grinned
Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains
Can you paint with all the colors of the wind