At dawn each morning he begins his relentless attacks to drive off the intruder. Over and over Mr. R charges, crashing into his opponent. But inevitably, after each attack the interloper remains rooted, boldly staring back at him.
One can only admire the qualities this bird displays – courage, determination, and sheer doggedness as day after day he labors to secure safe harbor for his future family. But a simple human device, the double-pane glass window, has fooled him. No matter how diligently Mr. R struggles, he will never overcome this opponent – his own reflection in the glass. Driven by instinct he unwittingly strives tirelessly against his own best interest.
Most folks here in Iowa County share Mr. R’s admirable qualities. Up early, hard working, and willing to sacrifice for their families’ futures. And those qualities have helped us reach unprecedented levels of comfort, convenience, and abundance. But like Mr. R we too may unwittingly trust a human construct that deflects us from a genuinely secure future. Our comfortable society has been built on rampant resource exploitation and consumption. But in today’s world of over 7.1 billion humans this formerly useful economic model is unsustainable. Calculations indicate that if all of Earth’s inhabitants consumed at the same rate as Americans it would take 4 planets to satisfy our demands. Perhaps like Mr. R we too work tirelessly but against our own best interests.
If we expect all our hard work to secure for us a safe and prosperous future the extract – consume - throwaway model needs modification. Earth Day’s founder, our own Senator Gaylord Nelson, stated that the truly “sustaining wealth of the world” is in its healthy biological systems. There in lies our genuine source of security.
With the aid of fluttering strips of cloth strung across our windows Mr. R is gradually learning to ignore his reflective rival. Likewise, may we learn that a healthy environment is an integral part of a secure future here on this one and only planet where we’re forever…Earthbound.