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Naturalist Notebook

What we have in common

If you have watch any television, scrolled through a social media feed or spent a few moments reading tweets, then you know that political ads, opinions, and half-truths have built to a fevered pitch, this first week in November. And depending on the ad, we are told we are facing Armageddon, the next great depression or a raging out of control pandemic. It is enough to make one crawl under the covers and hibernate.

In its Greek roots, crisis means decision, a turning point. And that is exactly where we are today. This sense of choosing between paths often creating an even wider chasm of abuses and misgivings. But does it have to be this way? What if instead of focusing on all of our differences, we focused instead on what we have in common? Wendell Berry wrote, “The earth is what we all have in common.” And indeed it is.

Adlai Stevenson said during his last address before the United Nations, “We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil, all committed for our safety to its security and peace, preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and I will say the love we give our fragile craft.” And former president, Jimmy Carter stated, “Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.” And regardless of his or your own politics, he may just have hit upon a solution to our current divisions. Imagine a society where everyone stopped to reconnect with the natural wonder surrounding them. How many of society’s problems would improve? Might stress levels decrease as love of life increased, and our own health improve along with the health of the planet? What if we worked together as a community to make all of those who live there, human and more than human alike, welcomed and supported?

They say all politics is local. So too, is community. Regardless of election outcomes, we have the ability to affect change. We have the means to create the community we wish to see and nature provides us with all of the inspiration and wonder needed. So let us step outside and look up at the stars, feel the fallen leaves crunch under our feet, breathe in the crisp fall air and dare to dream of communities built around the mutual love of the earth. Just imagine the possibilities…