By: Chara Armon, Ph.D.
What if you can’t honor the Earth unless you also honor your own body? What if Earth care isn’t as much an intellectual numbers game of measuring water pollution or carbon emissions, but a body-centered practice of loving one’s own self, and then relatedly loving the larger Earth self?
I’m not saying that the intellectual or scientific aspects of Earth care are unimportant. As a scholar married to a scientist, I think science is tremendously important. But I’d like to suggest that it’s secondary.
Looking at environmental problems is secondary because it’s not effective unless it’s grounded in loving and compassionate concern for the natural world. We’ve proven to ourselves in the twentieth century that having lots of data on environmental problems doesn’t motivate people to act to repair those problems. To put it another way, discouraging numbers don’t seem to lead to constructive action.
I’ve come to believe that what can lead to ecological healing is remembering that we care about our own bodies, other people’s bodies, and the enormous, gorgeous Earth body that is our home. Our intellects haven’t served us entirely well when it comes to prompting Earth-healing action. Our bodies can serve us better here. If we listen, our bodies tell us that they desire clean water. They tell us that smog smells frightening. They tell us that the companionship of other species warms our hearts. This is the kind of guidance that truly puts us on the path of protective action on behalf of the natural world.
My point is that, as much as I value science, I don’t think that studying atmospheric carbon levels leads many people to tend to the Earth. I do believe that attending to our own bodies’ needs and communication can teach us to tend to the physical world, our life partner.
So maybe what you can do for the Earth today—for the air and water and endangered species—is to love your own body. Recognize its needs. Pledge to do one thing this week on behalf of your body’s wellness and, consequently, the Earth’s wellness. Perhaps you’ll purchase personal care products made with all-natural ingredients, maybe you’ll buy only organic produce this week, you may drive less and walk more, or maybe you’ll plant a garden. Whatever you do, lean into appreciating the ways in which self-care intertwines with Earth care.
Chara Armon, Ph.D.
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