Vol. 17, no. 2
March -- April, 2005
From the Editor
Recently, while preparing for this issue, I watched several educational videos.
"The Man who Planted Trees" is an animated movie, which shows how even one determined person can make a profound change in the world. A lone farmer who has lost his family takes upon himself the task of reforesting a wind-swept, barren land. Using a long metal rod, he digs a quick hole in the ground and then drops in a good-quality, pre-soaked acorn, and covers it up with dirt. Each day, he might plant 100 acorns on a patch of mountainside while attending to his flock of sheep.
Over a course of 30 years, he reforested more than 25 sq. kms of mountain land with oaks and birches. And what a difference did that make! As the trees matured, they helped the soil retain moisture and streams began to flow again. Grasses, wildflowers, bees, birds, wildlife appeared. The whole landscape became alive again. Very inspiring, indeed!
Another video, "Kilowatt Ours" shows the connection between our electrical energy use and the problems of air pollution, global warming, coal mining, asthma and other health impacts on children. Did you know that an average home in the Southeastern United States uses over 1,000 kwhrs of electricity-requiring one ton of coal (mined in the Appalachia mountains) each month? We can reduce our energy use by half without sacrificing the quality of life. Also, renewable energy can help us reduce further our negative impact on nature.
I have been frugal in my energy use for most of my life. But the video has rekindled my desire to reduce our energy use even further and help preserve our earth's precious natural resources. Even our ten-year-old son is being careful not to waste energy unnecessarily!
Yet, another educational video, "The Global Banquet: Politics of Food" brought to my consideration how we support the destruction of small family farms, the livelihood of people in the developing world, as well as at home. We are hurting our own health and wellbeing in the process... all as we spend our money buying food at the supermarkets. How? By the economic choices we make in buying processed and packaged food products that are transported over great distances. The video suggested we can vote with our money! We can buy locally produced, fresh and healthy foods that will help keep small family farms in business everywhere. The large factory farms do not take good care of the land or use energy and resources wisely! Giant corporations are not in the business of feeding us good food, they're in it simply to make more money for the bosses and the shareholders!
How can we make the best use of our resources? By taking a serious look at how we spend them! How does our family use energy and resources? What do we buy? Where do we shop? What do we do and how much do we get out of the energy we use? Here is a challenge to each one of us! As students of life, we can sharpen our skills in math, accounting, recording, analyzing and predicting with this exercise:
-- Arun Marayan Toke'
Our Lives Are Connected with Nature!
How can there be a world when we destroy it to bits and pieces during wars and conflicts? How can there be a world without the people who starve to death or are inflicted with incurable diseases? Deep inside you don't know how it feels like to care about our culture, our world and our nature. Animals pay a high price for sharing the planet with human beings. Some die to feed us, some for sports, more are brushed aside to extinction. Aldo Leopold wrote, "Man and beast, plant and soil lived on and with each other in mutual toleration, to the mutual benefit of all." Well, what has happened then to that mutual toleration?
I believe we have done bigger things but not better things. We have learned to make a living but not a life. We've cleaned up the air but polluted the soul. These are times of fast food and slow indigestion. I believe when I die, I will keep on living, and nature and culture will have my heart to see them through.
As definite as the rising and setting of the sun,
-- Shiela Sibozi Muzhamba
God, Forgive Man
Ode to My Dog
A Tale from China:
Confucius was a wise man and great thinker. He lived in China from 551 BCE to 479 BCE. The Chinese called him Kong Qui or Kongzi.
One day, as he was passing by, he saw two boys arguing with each other.
"Closer," said one.
"Farther," said the other.
Confucius asked them the reason for their argument. "I think the sun is closer at noon and farther in the morning," said the first boy. Kongzi nodded and turned to the other boy.
"I believe that the sun is closer in the morning and farther away at noon," said the other.
"Can you explain why?" asked Kongzi to both the boys.
"It is hotter at noon, cooler in the mornings. It gets hotter because the sun is close to us. It is cool in the morning because the sun is far away," said the first boy.
He pointed at the sun that was beginning to set in the west.
"And what do you say?" asked Kongzi to the other boy.
"You can see the sun clearly-as a round big red ball-in the morning. During noon, you can hardly make out the sun. Isn't it bigger when it is closer, and smaller when it is farther?" asked the other boy.
The great man didn't have a reply to this complicated question. Do you? When do you think the sun is closer?
-- Chitra Soundar,
originally from India, Singapore.
Skipping Stones Magazine