In 1968, the first ever colour photo of the Earth from space was taken. For the first time, we could see our planet in its full majesty from the outside. This is the image entitled “Earthrise.”
Take a moment, look at it. Imagine this being the first time you have ever seen your planet—see that living blue glow contrasted with the vast empty blackness of space; the living glow of Earth.
The breathtaking beauty of it is undeniable. Yet, the Earth was not always like this.
(Disclaimer: this is an absurdly condensed version of what really happened.)
Once, the Earth was just a burning mass of molten elements (hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen etc.), no beautiful blue glow, just a red-hot orb of violent chemical reactions.
Over time, the gases cooled and condensed to form water, and those molten elements of Earth cooled and condensed to form rock.
Eventually, in the water, those same elements of Earth formed into the first living beings: bacteria.
Over a long period of time, those elements evolved to form more and more complex life-forms, plants and animals: fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
And of course, those same elements of Earth eventually formed into you and me—human beings.
All living and non-living things on Earth are formed of the same elements that made up the Earth since it’s beginning.
So, the Earth is not just a “place” that we live on. We are the Earth. We—meaning all living things, including humans—literally are the Earth. We are made of Earth and from Earth. We do not live on the Earth; we live within the Earth and the Earth lives within us. Our very bodies are the elements of Earth—the minerals, the chemicals, the water etc. uniquely put together to form our bodies.
In fact all living things on Earth are part of one great system that maintains the equilibrium and harmony of the planet. Our life, our breathing, our eating and defecating, our activity and movement, our very being is an essential part of the whole body called Earth, we are like cells that make up that body.
The cosmologist Brian Swimme put it like this:
“Four billion years ago the Earth was a flaming ball of rock and now it can sing opera.”
So that picture we see of the majestic glowing orb, that blue gem, that breathtaking beauty—is us: Earth.
On this Earth Day, stop and take a moment to recognise yourself in this way—recognise the dignity, the humility and the responsibility of what that really means.
It seems clear that all of the damage we have done to the Earth is a result of losing touch with this simple yet profound truth. If we are to reverse that damage and bring balance to the Earth we must return to this as a living reality—we are the Earth, and the Earth is us.