It may come as a shock to you all -it certainly was a shock to me! – but this week, we bid a glad farewell to 2013 and welcomed 2014 with open arms. For many, New Year’s becomes a time to resolve to make a change, do something, or grow as a person. All of these lofty goals are well-intended, worthy, admirable, and probably not going to happen.
Sad truth of the matter is, we are set in our own ways and most of us, myself included, are too busy and/or lazy to actually upheave our entire lives just to be healthier, more interesting, or talented. Last year, my resolution was to lose weight and take shorter showers. Neither of those things happened to the degree I had wanted. So I tag them onto this year’s resolutions, along with all the failed resolutions of the past. Bummer.
This year, my main resolution is to be more resolute. And also HD. I want to strengthen my convictions, stand up for what I believe in, hold my tongue less and speak my mind more. This may or may not involve breaking up a 9 year relationship that has been circling the drain for a long time, but that’s my problem and not yours. And I think that this year, I can accomplish it simply because I’ve been getting there slowly but surely anyway over the last few years. It’s a good trend, because I tend to hold things inside and feel terrible about it.
But what I really want to talk about right now is conservation, so I digress[ed]. People can make all sorts of resolutions to recycle more, use less, reuse everything, drive less, bike more, hike more, eat less meat, eat locally, grow your own food, thrift shop, take an eco-tour, donate to charity -whatever you want to do, whatever you can do, do it. The environment needs us all, in our “developed” industrialized nations, to cut back on our footprints.
That doesn’t mean you have to be unhappy, that doesn’t mean you can get conceited about it. The New Year is a great time to start being a conservationist, because New Years and New Beginnings and whatnot, but there’s never a change too small to make and it’s never to late to make that change. The important part is that, unlike approximately half of all resolutions conceived of (a statistic I totally just pulled out of thin air), this resolution lasts the rest of your life. This is a resolution you pass onto your children. This is a resolution that doesn’t take a day off. Sure, you might fly somewhere and burn a lot of CO2 in the process; doesn’t matter -make it up elsewhere, somehow.
This is not a resolution that necessarily makes you a better person. This is not a resolution that makes you more interesting, or marketable. It doesn’t make you special, and it probably won’t really impress anyone the way that losing 50 lbs or quitting smoking will. So why would you do it? Because you care about having a planet to live on and enjoy.
It may manifest itself into different motivations for different people. Some people might want to protect the forests so that they have a healthy elk population to hunt during hunting season. Some folks might want a place to meditate in a serene, almost pristine woods. Others might simply want clean water to drink and air to breathe. The little details might change, but as any grownup knows, you come together, you talk, and you figure out what you have in common so that you can accomplish big, long-term goals together. Worry about the little details later.
Conservation benefits everyone, because we are all a part of nature and we all require a healthy environment to sustain us into perpetuity. Big oil and other companies that make a killing off of destroying habitats for nonrenewable resources won’t survive forever; there’s simply no way to make a finite resource last infinitely. Ourselves as individuals won’t last forever, but our choices might. Choosing conservation doesn’t mean you’re a good person; it means you care about yourself and your friends and family. But choosing conservation can also benefit everyone, including those who are much less fortunate than you.
So, if you are looking for a resolution any time of year, resolve yourself to be a force of positive change, to protect what wilds are left, to conserve species at risk of extinction, to maintain healthy habitats, to serve yourself and others. But don’t treat it like a resolution that doesn’t really matter, that only affects you or your immediate family. This is one of the most important resolutions that you can make, that you can carry out, that you must follow through. You can do it, and good luck!
Here are some inspirational quotes to help you through
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” -Chief Seattle
“You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them.” – Wangari Maathai
“We are defined not only by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy”
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Unless we are willing to encourage our children to reconnect with and appreciate the natural world, we can’t expect them to help protect and care for it.” – David Suzuki
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” – Edward Everett Hale (I love this quote; it brings a tear to my eye)