Uniting for a Greener and Safer World
There’s celebration afoot, as our nation prepares to swear in its first African American president. But tomorrow, after the last balloon has floated away, the real work will begin for our young leader. We must not expect him to do it alone.
President Obama will face challenges as great, arguably greater, than any president in any era before. He inherits an economic disaster second only to the Great Depression. Unemployment rates are skyrocketing as business after business closes its doors. The economic hole we’re in threatens to collapse and bury us under massive debt and unprecedented bailouts.
Our very planet is in peril. We wonder, when we’re brave enough to contemplate the question, Will our children’s children find the world as hospitable a home as it was for us? Or will homo sapiens itself find a place on the endangered species list? The decisions our new president makes in the next four — or eight — years will not only affect the economic and political survival of the world’s nations, but will also help determine the fate of every inhabitant on this planet. He must proceed with caution, then act decisively and with determination. And we must give him our support.
But if he forgets for a time that no other issue — not mind-numbing economic crisis, not the tensions and fighting in the Middle East, not even his beloved children — is as critically important as the sustainability of our planet, then we must remind him and hold him accountable.
It is well past time to put an end to environmental rape. We, the American people, must consider whether our cherished “pursuit of happiness” truly requires huge, gas-sucking vehicles to drive to the neighborhood store; giant televisions blaring in empty rooms; closets stuffed with so many pairs of shoes that we will never wear them out; and playrooms filled with so many toys that even toddlers have more possessions than an average family in a developing nation. As Dr. Jeff Murray said in his My 5, “No one should have two of anything until everyone has one.”
Let’s consider our neighbors as well as ourselves. It’s a small planet we share. And when we cry, “Not in my backyard!” let’s remember that someone else’s backyard is as sacred as our own. In too many cases, we’ve pushed our worst polluters onto someone else’s soil. Companies that declare themselves “green” in this country too often turn the waters black and poison the air on the other side of the planet. We must not let environmental sins go unrecognized, let alone unpunished.
President Obama has proposed a new, green-collar workforce, trained in environmentally responsible jobs and building a system of renewable energy that can free us from clinging to foreign oil. Let’s not stop there. As the economy improves, let’s do all we can to improve energy efficiency and retrofit our own businesses and homes with alternative sources of power.
Today, when our 44th president takes the oath of office, let’s take oaths of our own. If you haven’t yet written your My 5, do it now. Ask yourself, “What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?” What are you willing to do? Really? Make your commitment now, and hold yourself accountable. Then start today. It’s up to each of us to support our president as he tries to make the planet sustainable for humankind. Whether your party was red or blue or another hue entirely, let’s all come together as one green nation.
As a candidate, Mr. Obama’s theme was “Change.” When he is sworn in this morning, let’s remember another great leader, Gandhi, who said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Obama’s mantra throughout the campaign was, “Yes, we can.” And now, as a united American people, I urge us all to say, “Yes, we can — and we will.”
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