As promised yesterday …
I once had a … well, lets call her an acquaintance in an effort to keep her anonymous … So, I once had an acquaintance tell me that she hates “tree huggers.”
And I thought, “Really?”
I mean, to an extent, I get it. Sometimes all of the efforts for saving the earth and the animals and so forth can seem a bit in-your-face. But when I feel that way, I remind myself that I feel that way because of the fact that these truths are making me uncomfortable; at that moment, I am not yet ready to admit that the earth is falling apart or that it really is unfair to keep chickens cooped up to an extent where they are unable to move for the entire duration of their lives.
So, the fact that she made such a statement — and had made many others of the like — made me cringe. Not because I necessarily think she is a bad person, but because of the fact that she has yet to learn of the the harm involved in such statements.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect. I sometimes buy too many apples and have to throw one away, and I drive an SUV that is for sure not helping the Earth. But I would much rather be a tree hugger-in-training than a person who fails to realize the failings of the world that surrounds her.
Now, am I foolish enough to think that my efforts alone will change the world? Absolutely not. My recycling container in the corner of my kitchen and reusable bags that I take to the grocery store are all just small bits at a time.
But the real questions are: What if no one made any efforts? Don’t all of these little changes make a noteworthy difference? Don’t they all add up to make an even bigger difference?
I am reminded of a story that my mother read to me when I was younger. It is called The Starfish Story, and it is adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley:
→ Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.”
And isn’t that the point?
The truth is, if you set out trying to save the entire Earth, you will find yourself with quite a full plate. But it is the small efforts, the few starfish, that make a difference. And that, for anyone, is a doable cause.
So, I say hate the treehugger, and you are only hating a truth that you are unwilling to recognize. No one is asking you to spearhead the global warming movement. But make a few small steps toward saving this planet, and you will be wrapping your arms around a big oak in no time.