Jun 25, 2024

“Save the Environment!”

I saw the slogan everywhere growing up, on tee shirts and bumper stickers but it was the posters of exotic animals from far away that captured my childhood imagination. They were my first hint that the world was huge and I had only seen a small patch of it.

I lost myself in the posters of parrots in paradise, monkeys in the rainforest, polar bears staring at stars while lounging on glaciers, and of course the bamboo-nibbling panda couples on that special date night in the wilderness. All of them seemed to be beckoning me to jump on the hang glider of eco-justice and come rescue them. Later, I was somewhat disappointed to learn that none of these animals were looking for me to rescue them by bringing them home as pets. Apparently, these rare creatures wanted me to save them by saving their environment, and then by leaving them alone. As I matured, that mission of preserving some species’ habitat inspired me. But in the interests of honesty, I’d also like to briefly thank Jesus for inventing stuffed animals, which got me through a potentially rudderless time.

Today, I look back on all those early imprinting visuals featuring animals that I would never see in my own block or backyard, and I now believe that I subconsciously internalized the message that the environment was somewhere else, far away, in a special spot much prettier than my boring neighborhood or block, and therefore much more deserving of preserving.

But there comes a time to put aside childish things, including the idea that the environment we should be saving is somewhere else, out on an iceberg our grandchildren may never see unless we get our Alaskan cruise tickets early.

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