To a person born in the 1930s, the changes throughout the world are so many and so stark that it would be foolish to list them all here. All 80-plus-year-olds know exactly what I mean.
Let’s take climate change for one. Summers were summer and winters were winter back in those days. We had nice long springs and beautiful autumns with Indian summers following. We could count on them. Only occasionally would an odd year happen where winters, for example, might be unusually warm. The following year would be seasons as usual.
The change seemed to be gradual, but only to those who don’t think in big-picture terms. To those of us struggling with jobs, homes, family, and other issues of keeping up with daily living, it seemed that the weather was either nice or rainy, warm or cold, easy to move about in or not.
Then as we got older and our responsibilities lessened, we began to notice that in general, things were not as they had once been, and weather was one of these. I was in my early twenties when Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring shocked the world with her observations and predictions. She made a lot of people angry, but many more recognized the truth in her words, and the environmental movement was born. I noticed that the swarms of flies that used to plague us back on our dairy farm in Wisconsin were no longer there — only an occasional fly that hadn’t succumbed to the pesticide DDT that was so widely used at that time. We wanted the flies to be gone, but the price we were paying was high, and we were unaware.
I don’t need to outline all the horrible things that we, the unaware, have done to our planet. Information about this is everywhere in the news today. Yet many people still close their eyes to the larger issues because they are struggling with their own immediate needs, not wanting to know that so many of the things that they are doing is adding in small ways to a very large problem for all of humanity as well as all the creatures of the earth. All those small things add up, and we are beginning to pay the price for our self-imposed blindness to what the earth needs from us.