Every time I have some moment on a seashore,
or in the mountains,
or sometimes in a quiet forest,
I think this is why the environment has to be preserved.
“Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million individuals and more than 2,000 businesses turned their lights off for one hour to take a stand against climate change. Only a year later and Earth Hour had become a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries/territories participating. Global landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge, CN Tower in Toronto, Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and Rome’s Colosseum, all stood in darkness, as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour…
On Saturday 27 March, Earth Hour 2010 became the biggest Earth Hour ever. A record 128 countries and territories joined the global display of climate action. Iconic buildings and landmarks from Asia Pacific to Europe and Africa to the Americas switched off. People across the world from all walks of life turned off their lights and came together in celebration and contemplation of the one thing we all have in common – our planet.”
I love Earth Hour.
I love the idea of whole areas of the world coming together in the darkness, in support of the earth we all share.
But I will be honest: the Earth Hour I observe each year celebrates a very specific environment— one of quiet time with my children.
We live in a world of noise, noise, noise, NOISE (and I feel for the Grinch every year when he sounds this complaint; I really do. I understand his pain). From planes overhead to cars rushing by to shouting over the background noise of the television to even the hum of the refrigerator: noise is constant in our lives.
Our family went through quite a few involuntary “Earth Hours” this winter, as Mother Nature forced downtime upon us by knocking out our power time and again. It’s remarkable how quiet the house is without the lowgrade hum of electronics. It seems impossible, when awakened by the power flicking back on in the middle of the night, that we live with this constant background din without noticing it.
I have to believe that this contributes to our levels of stress. I also think it makes it incredibly difficult for us to really hear each other.
How many times have you snapped back to a conversation in progress without knowing what has been said? Raise your hand if you are guilty of the non-committal “mm-hmm” when a child has asked you something?
We are surrounded by distraction. We can only focus on so much. Our anxiety climbs, and as a result, we “tune out.” We disconnect.
Now think what that’s like for a child, who is so much more sensitive to external stimuli, and to the wandering of a parent’s attention.
On Saturday, March 26, at 8:30pm local time, people all over this great world of ours will shut out the lights for Earth Hour.
In some areas there are community activities planned. A quick Google search will reveal lists of ideas for fun things to do with your children.
This post is not about that. My plans are somewhat different.
My kids and I will head outside armed with blankets and hot cocoa and the freedom of nothing planned. Maybe we’ll count the stars. Maybe we’ll hear the spring peepers which have hatched by the creek. (We will, no doubt, be freaked out by the owls who must be mid-mating season, judging by the unholy racket they’ve been making.)
We will snuggle for warmth. We will speak in muted tones so that the neighbors cannot overhear, and by god I will listen to what they are saying, and for what meaning may be hiding underneath. My guess is that they will say what they really need for me to understand, while they have my absolute and undivided attention. And when you are a tween, or a teen, sigh, such things are always easier to say in the dark, under the guise of boredom.
Rituals are important. I want my children to associate Earth Hour, and the onset of spring, with this feeling of unity and calm and being heard. I want them to always be able to seek out some pocket of silence outdoors and recreate the comfort of these times. To associate nature with love and protection.
And yes, I want them to remember the seemingly ridiculous amount of weight and importance I put on these hours of quiet, so that they remember to do the same with their children.
I want to find excuses to hold these hours more often.