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Green Scene: What home means to me

What was intended to be a column about what other people are doing to green their lives has become a column about me and what I am doing to green my life.

Gandhi said, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

I was going to write something about five ways to be more green, but it was not inspired. No one needs any more shoulds or have-tos or you are going to die lists. What we all need more than ever is inspiration.

I have been dealing with home issues for over a week now. My latest neighbor saga is just one of many absurd scenarios that have unfolded since I moved here in August of 2018. It is amazingly difficult to find quiet, courteous and kind-hearted people to live with, and it really got me thinking about people in general. I have noticed, and I include myself in this, that it is so easy to focus on yourself and forget that you live with and around other people. More than that, you also live with and around plants, animals, minerals and insects too. This web of life is something we are an integral part of, and it is this connection we have forgotten.

That is why we are in the environmental crisis we are in. But it also is a human connection crisis. We will never be able to get out of this if we don’t learn that everything we do matters, not only to us, but to others, and to the other life on this planet.

When you live your life like you are in a bubble, it becomes OK to shut out your loved ones because you had a challenging day at work. It becomes OK to disrespect the cashier at the grocery store who is having a hard day and accidentally overcharged you. It becomes OK to take out your home life frustration on your co-workers. It becomes OK to buy everything in plastic and throw it away without a second thought. Nothing could be further from OK, though.

It all begins and ends with love and respect. Do you love and respect yourself? When you do, that radiates out to loving and respecting your family and friends, co-workers and neighbors, community, environment, the world. You realize that your home is everywhere. You are not separate from any of it. Home is wherever you are. When you take responsibility for the fact that whatever you do matters, it becomes impossible to disrespect other people without immediate remorse. You have gratitude for your family and friends. You are quiet and courteous in your apartment because you know your neighbors can hear everything. You get to know your co-workers. You smile and converse with the cashier at the grocery store you stop by at least once a week. You realize that every person is another human being with hopes, dreams and challenges, just doing the best they can under the circumstances.

After that, it makes perfect sense to care about the planet. You want to do your part to care for her and the other life that shares this beautiful blue and green marble hurtling through space with us. We are all in this together, after all. We all call Earth our home.