“Whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but its very important that you do it.” I sometimes wonder what Gandhi meant by that. He is correct about the first part – our lives are just a blink in the long history since the creation of Earth. At some point we, as a race, will become extinct similar to any other species. It was this past week that I had felt as if I was insignificant while looking up at the Milky Way with my friends. Standing there made me realize yet again how vast this world really is, something much bigger and more complicated than I could ever know in my lifetime. It was nice though, feeling unimportant, while seeing all those brilliant stars. What confuses me is that I’m suppose to believe that whatever I do will be very important in this insignificant life. What is he saying exactly? I think whatever I do is important to me but I want it to also have a positive influence on others. For example – I know that getting an education and finding work will be very important in my life. Or that if I help my family, friends, and perhaps even strangers from the goodness of my heart – that too will be very important. Sometimes though what I do may not have any influence and could be consider insignificant. Whenever I walk into town, I always pass a spot near the busy road where it is littered with bottles, beer cans, plastic bags, etc. It makes me wonder if I picked up the trash every single day – would people notice and stop or continue to litter and ignore my efforts? It would be important to me because I’m cleaning the environment and making it a better place. However, if it goes unnoticed by others, what difference does it make if I clean up or not? This isn’t the best example but what I would hope that whatever I do such as picking up trash – that other people would want to do the same.
I’ve come to understand a bit more of what Gandhi was saying while doing this Chesapeake Semester Program. The idea is that even if my efforts to help save the Bay isn’t having any immediate effects now, there is still significance in doing what I can to help out. It may take hundreds of years before our work pays off and the Bay is restored but what is done now will have some sort of influence in the future. Being in this program has given me opportunities to really understand the environmental issues that are surrounding the Bay. I’ve learned that there are several folds to this crisis both politically and environmentally. What’s clear is that people want to blame others for the problems of the Bay instead of fixing their own. There has always been a constant debate of who owns the Bay and it’s goods – the watermen or the recreational men, the industries for fishers, crabs, and oysters or no one? People believe that God put all the crabs and oysters there for mankind to take as much as he wants however they do not realize that over-harvesting can have deadly consequences. Farming and damming also have drawbacks for the Bay among many more things, the list just continues on. What’s important is looking at the bigger picture, the Chesapeake Bay is suffering because the Chesapeake Watershed is being affected by all of these factors. Whatever happens upstream will have some sort of influence downstream. Since the beginning of this program, it’s been a real eye-opener for me to discover what the possibles are to save the Bay. The efforts and conservation programs that I’ve learned about have really inspired me to continue down this road where my efforts could someday have an impact of restoring the Bay.
I believe that this is a life lesson that can be applied anywhere and in any situation which makes it more believable that in this insignificant life – whatever I do will be very important. I’ve always had a fierce desire to save and protect nature and the animals from the destruction we do to them. The way in which we use them is horrific in most instances because we see them as instrumental for our survival instead of having intrinsic value. We have polluted the waters and atmosphere with CO2 emissions and sewage waste as well as over-extracted natural resources causing huge depletions in the environment. We do the same for animals by pushing species out of their natural habitats for the purpose of agriculture and infrastructure. Not to mention we over-harvest many populations and slaughter thousands in our poultry industries in awful conditions. Point blank, we abuse both the land and animals in cruel ways. I’m not saying everyone treats them like this, not at all, but what I am saying is that we need to be more conscious of our actions if we want to stick around for a bit longer. Whatever we do in this insignificant time lapse of our history, it’s important that we do it because there will be consequences for both the planet and ourselves.