Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


Earth Day!

Practice makes perfect

Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.” — Dalai Lama

By Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair
True North Perspective

Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

On the Friday before Earth Day, I was sitting on the steps of my front verandah, enjoying a much deserved cup of tea after housecleaning all day when suddenly, two red admiral butterflies brushed by me. Their unique, soft fluttering movements, like a well-rehearsed aerial ballet, seemed to be some kind of ritual or courting dance. I thought: “This will be the year of the butterfly. How wonderful!”
Immediately, thoughts of gardening and planting flowers came to mind. Butterflies love cleomes and every year I plant some and watch as butterflies land softly and feed on their sweet nectar. I was reminded of the upcoming Earth Day and how much needs to be done by everyone if we are to share this planet with future generations.
I heard that 300 000 people participated in the Earth Day celebration in Montreal. People care! People want changes. We cannot go on foolishly abusing our planet!
“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” These wise words from Mahatma Ghandi resonated. I wonder what he would think if he were still alive today! Greed runs the world!
What advice would he give Canadians who are frustrated with the Harper government backing down from the Kyoto Accord and offering no meaningful alternative? Our country possesses incredible natural resources and Canadians expect them to be exploited wisely, all the while protecting the soil, water and air quality along with fragile ecosystems. Greed has always led to ruin and this is not what Canadians want. What would you rather pay for: a luxury hotel room at the Savoy for Bev Oda, a rescue helicopter trip for Peter MacKay, extravagantly-priced fighter jets or clean-up operations and rehabilitation for environmental disaster areas? Is this part of the message Brigette DePape wanted to share?
Years ago, I was impressed by British Columbia’s reforestation program. That province is beautiful. What a contrast, some years later, when I flew over Haiti and saw the naked land, stripped of its trees. Poverty, yes! But also, poor management of resources… Does our country have a vision? Or is greed running us to the ground?
We all share this tiny planet and it seems that the profit-sharing is more and more dysfunctional. The rich are getting ridiculously richer while the poor are getting increasingly poorer. I agree with Warren Buffett when he suggests that the rich should be taxed accordingly and I applaud Mr. McGuinty for agreeing to the NDP’s “tax-the-rich” program… a tax increase for people making over 500 000$ a year. I am proud of Ontario’s social and environmental programs and I want them to continue.
I am also very conscious that we all have to make an effort to reduce “our carbon footprint” as is often said. I do my part by recycling paper and cardboard, plastics, glass and cans. I have a garden and I compost. This year, I plan to buy a rain barrel. I already recycle the water from my dehumidifier to water my plants. In Carlsbad, I used the water run-off from the sump pump before it emptied into the ditch. I had enough to keep all of my flowerbeds well watered. I encourage local growers and producers whenever I can. I recycle clothing, furniture, electronics because if it is sent to the dump, it only becomes displaced garbage, no longer serves a purpose and creates problems.
School and community projects are a wonderful way to teach children to get involved. The ongoing no-garbage at lunch program is great. The schoolyard or park clean-up initiative is also a great incentive to keep the yard clean afterwards as is planting trees and flowers. I remember fondly our “cleaning the schoolyard” projects with students. These young adults probably aren’t the ones who litter the roadsides and parking lots with Tim Hortons’ cups or leave their cigarette butts all over the place or vandalize public places.
Canadians must be more vocal about what they want for the future of this beautiful land of ours.
“Be who you are and say what you feel because those that matter don’t mind… And those that mind don’t matter.”
We need more visionaries. This is not the time to silence the environmentalists.
“A man worth knowing is one who thinks about something other than himself.” My mother-in-law used to say: “Just throw the others to the wolves.” I say: “Dump them!”
P.S. On a very positive note, Don and I will have the privilege of listening to the Dalai Lama, Saturday. Ottawa is the only Canadian stop in this worldwide tour.
Blessings to all and let’s hope the red admiral butterflies survived the snow and cold!