I live in Florida, close to the ocean. Every morning I go to the beach to watch the sunrise, and every morning I pick up trash from the sand. Some days I pick up a lot, other days just a little. Some days I go well prepared, with gloves, bags, and my pickup tool. Other days I just bend down, collect items with my bare hands, and deposit them in the trash cans. But I have vowed not to leave the beach without picking up at least eleven items. And if you are asking “Why eleven?” the answer is simple: “It’s just because eleven is my preferred number.”
Being a surfer, I have developed great love for the ocean, especially the shoreline, and beach cleanup is not new for me: it’s an activity I have been engaged in for decades. I have made it my mission to collect the scattered rubbish people leave behind. Almost every day I hear a “Thank you for doing this” from a stranger, and it is not uncommon to engage in conversations about how much our careless littering is wounding our planet.
I am not saying all this to brag, but to bring up a reflection about the way we live. Perhaps we can pause and ask ourselves, “Am I aware of how my choices affect the planet and all life on it? Am I being selfish and lazy, doing what is convenient for me without considering the inconveniences I create for others?” Perhaps this reflection can inspire us to live differently, consuming less and wasting less. Perhaps we can be more mindful of the choices we make, and limit to a minimum the amount of disposable items we use.
I am trying to be more selective of what I buy, trying to reduce the consumption of products packaged in plastic and staying away from single-use plastic items, such as plastic forks, knives, spoons, plates, cups, straws, and bottles.
In an article published in the May 6th, 2019 edition of the Washington Post, Darryl Fears wrote: “One million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction, with alarming implications for human survival, according to a United Nations report released Monday. The landmark report goes further than previous studies by directly linking the loss of species to human activity. It also shows how those losses are undermining food and water security, as well as human health. Oceana senior adviser Philip Chou called the report a beacon for more action to address a crisis. “We are seeing alarming increases in the deaths of fish, marine mammals and turtles ingesting plastics,” Chou said. “These plastics break apart in the ocean into microscopic particles [that are] consumed by fish, fish we now eat.”
Here it is, once again, my appeal for sanity: “We are all crew members and passengers of spaceship Earth, and we need to work together to preserve this vehicle that is taking us through the cosmos. We have to look at the big picture. We are all interconnected and interdependent. We are all in this together. We must stop all this ridiculous and pointless fighting, and cooperate unreservedly with each other, because we will either succeed and live, or fail and die, all of us together. Let’s change the focus, stop worrying about ourselves, and start thinking what we can do for others. Rather than asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’ let’s ask, ‘How can I serve?’ We are all responsible for preserving Planet Earth and building a sustainable future for all life. Let’s work together for the common good, for the greater good. And working together for common goals is completely possible. We just need to let go of fear and selfishness, and have the resolve to make it happen. So, let’s stop the nonsense and the pettiness! Heaven is here, if we want it to be.”
Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a better world for all. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect, and write, and who not only aspires to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is devoted to helping individuals have insights that may expand selflessness and compassion and lead to the growth of kindness and care for all sentient beings and the natural environment. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be.