Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion. – Rumi
In April, we’re focusing on Protect the Planet, one of our core values. The notion of Protection is widely understood…. but what exactly does the word Planet mean?
Planet is a derivative of the Greek work planetes, or wanderer1. In the modern interpretation, Planet refers to a celestial body moving in an elliptical orbit around a star2.
In both cases, there’s an implicit space factor. A wanderer moves linearly through time and space, seeking that for which it longs. A celestial body orbits a star, charting a circuitous path.
As members of our planet, we are simultaneously wandering and part of a celestial body.
Our wandering can, in part, be attributed to the insatiable curiosity that makes us human. We as humans are uniquely endowed with this mantle of curiosity and wonder. We explore. We better our plight. We strive to learn more.
It’s no wonder then, that when I think about protecting the planet, I think about that which sets our planet apart from all the others- it’s our humanity. At least for now, we are the only known entity like us in the universe. How cool is that? We are both alone and together in this time and space.
So let’s do everything to protect our notion of wandering. Let’s explore. Let’s push. Let’s further ourselves and cultivate ideas. Let’s protect the wanderer.
Another uniquely human characteristic is the connection to our collective species. Human connection, and the ability to connect with others on an intellectual level, makes us both extremely simple and highly complex beings.
We are connected in both time and space to our fellow humans.
Current sustainability thought leadership involves the notion of leaving our planet a better place for future generations. This responsibility to future humans implies a connection to our celestial body, our humanity. By existing on this earth, we are intrinsically connected to others. That’s a powerful thing!
But what if we considered protecting the planet for the good of the people with whom we are wandering? What if we considered their needs in real time in addition to considering future humans?
Enter the notion of the celestial body. Our connections to one another in real time are just as important as those for whom we are preserving the planet. So what can we do to protect our connections to one another, our celestial body?
Researcher Brene Brown defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
So let’s protect our celestial body. Let’s protect that connection. Let’s derive sustenance and strengthen our relationships in order to protect the planet.
It is a heavy burden we bear ‑- to protect both [the wanderer] and [our celestial body]. But it is possible to be concurrently present- oriented and future-oriented. Both protecting the notion of our concurrent humanity as well as those who will come after us.
I’ll leave you with one last interpretation that I believe surges these two postures. The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy asserts: a Planet does not give off its own light; rather, it shines by reflecting sunlight.
1 Douglas Harper’s Online Etymology Dictionary
Image Credit: Lexie Byrne