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Earth Day
Nature of Yesteryear

Earth Day
  • The writings of John Muir (by )
  • Walden (by )
  • Lewis and Clarke, Pioneers of the Great ... Volume Vol. 1 (by )
  • Mountaineering and Exploration in the Ja... (by )
  • Sailing Alone Around the World (by )
  • Sierra Club bulletin; Volume: 4 (1902-19... (by )
  • The Path on the Rainbow: An Anthology of... (by )
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April 22 is Earth Day, a worldwide event that celebrates our stewardship of Earth. It was devised in 1970 by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson, and spurred on by a recent oil spill in Santa Barbara and the gathering public consciousness of anti-war protests. It became more popular and meaningful every year since. 
Today, it is much more commonplace to hear of organizations, rallies, and laws passed in favor of protecting the Earth, but it wasn’t always so. Not long ago, it would have been ludicrous to think that the Earth could be under threat by the actions of humans. So, it followed suit that “environmental awareness” was a little used phrase, and that literature never found its focus on nature’s preservation. 

Despite this delayed realization, it goes without saying that nature has always been a focal point in literature. All of humanity has known this one constant force of beauty; the same moon and sun has risen over us since our own dawning. Though our geography has seen dramatic changes, who in history has looked up to the white peaks of a mountain, or seen the tides rolling in and not sensed the presence of the sublime?
It was not long ago that Lewis and Clark set out to retrace the even older footsteps of the Native Americans. At its most basic level, the books of Lewis and Clark entail the classic human story of journeying. Their quest to the Pacific Ocean is one of the great accounts of mankind testing itself through nature. 

And who had more reverence and understanding for nature than native people, those who lived simply and off the land? Although the Native Americans were inclined to keeping their histories, myths and songs oral, others sought to put them down on paper so that future generations may discover them. The Path on the Rainbow is one such collection. 
Remember further back to the School of Naturalists and Zou Yan, one of the great Chinese thinkers who fused Yin-Yang with the Five Elements. Some have claimed his theories of the basic forces of nature to be the founding of Chinese scientific thought.

Every story that celebrates human struggling with nature is a story that lifts up the awesome power and mystery that is our home planet. Joshua Slocum created such a story in his true account, Sailing Around the World, where he does just as the title suggests all by his lonesome.

In celebration of Earth Day, let us remember that this is the only Earth we shall ever have. It is worth everything to care for our home planet, our mother earth, for she is what sustains us.

by Thad Higa

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