Open Eyes, Open Hearts

By Phylis Clay Sparks

April 22nd has been recognized as Earth Day every year since 1970. It’s claimed that more than a billion people all over the world will acknowledge Earth Day in 2017, celebrating our planet’s abundant and naturally beautiful resources, petitioning our governments to take action against threatening climate change, and encouraging all people to become environmentally friendly. But I wonder how many people actually do everything within their realm of influence to take action in support of environmental protection.

April 22nd is just one day out of 365. That one day might inspire awareness to some degree, but I don’t hear much about it the other 364 days. I would venture to say that the majority of people on planet Earth are caught up in their own personal world of survival and pursuit of happiness, and do very little to educate themselves about sustaining our precious planet, much less even think about how thoughtless they are about it.

It also occurs to me that in the same way most people neglect the welfare of this planet, they likewise neglect the welfare of their own body, mind and spirit. Could it be that the deteriorating condition of our planet and our environment is actually a direct reflection of our collective inner environment? By that I mean the sum total of humankind’s self-respect, spiritual and moral code of ethics, and willingness to give, love and serve. Have we even considered that our internal environment must come first if we are to expect ourselves to care about taking actions that create a healthier and more vibrant environment? Wow! We have a lot of work to do.

Often, when I’m driving my car, I notice the trash strewn alongside the road and my heart aches as I think about the carelessness and thoughtlessness of those who threw trash out their car window and thought nothing about it. My guess is these same people disrespect themselves and feel “put upon” by life itself. As I see it, in order for any of us to see our world in a loving and caring way, we must first see ourselves and those around us in a loving and caring way.

In addition to celebrating Earth Day in a sincere and authentic way, I encourage all of us to open our eyes and notice how we view ourselves, and then open our hearts to accept ourselves even more and to love and honor each other. With open eyes and open hearts, we will be ready to respect, care for and love the Earth upon which we depend for sustenance, beauty and support. We will feel blessed by our inner environment and demonstrate a genuine sense of responsibility.

That responsibility includes suggestions like using less paper and recycling more; using canvas bags rather than plastic; buying eco-friendly light bulbs; cutting back on energy use in our homes; renting movies, borrowing books from libraries and buying secondhand goods when at all possible instead of adding new ones; reduce water waste; and so on.

Love yourself, love the Earth!… Love each other, love the Earth!… Love the Earth and clear the way for generations to come!

Phylis Clay Sparks is a professional speaker, teacher, workshop facilitator and author of FORGIVENESS… It Is NOT What You Think It Is! A graduate of Washington University in St. Louis and the Ernest Holmes College School of Ministry in Orlando, Florida, Phylis is an ordained minister. She is the founder and Spiritual Director of The Soul-Esteem Center in Maryland Heights, Missouri, now in its twentieth year. Visit www.Soul-Esteem.com for more information, or Phylis Sparks Author.