In the last issue of "Panorama," The Georgia Conservancy's quarterly magazine, Conservancy President Pierre Howard eulogized former board member Ray Anderson, who had recently died.
Howard wrote about a speech that he heard Anderson give in 2005 at the Carter Center. He was dealing with the question "How could a living planet - the rarest and most precious thing in the universe - lose its biosphere, its essential livability?"
It would happen insidiously, he said, like hearing loss, a small bit every day until your hearing is gone.
As many of my readers know, I am a real supporter of protecting our environment, and I was really struck by the litany of how it could happen. I hope you will also be impressed as I share these concerns. (I have not included the entire litany.)
"One silted or polluted stream at a time; one polluted river at a time;
One over-fertilized farm at a time, leading to one algae bloom at a time; one eroded ton of topsoil; one developed wetland at a time;
One butchered tree; one corrupt politician; one new open-pit coal mine in a pristine valley at a time;
One disappearing acre of rainforest at a time;
One political payoff at a time, resulting in one regulatory rollback at a time;
One toxic release; one oil spill, one breath of fouled air at a time;
One-tenth of a degree of global warming, one manipulated river channel at a time;
One poverty-stricken, starving, diseased or exploited human being at a time."
This may sound like a reason for despair, but it may also be a reason for hope. He was telling us that we can change the future by changing minds. He was saying that we must wake up and realize that the small steps for sustainability that we make in our own lives and in our communities can make a difference in the eventual fate of mankind.
Anderson believed, so Pierre Howard thinks, that our individual steps toward sustainability will form a mighty tidal wave of change inexorably sweeping down the most powerful forces of resistance.
If we choose, we can take better care of God's creation, and thus better care of the future of generations to come. But I wonder, will we make the hard choices?
Think on this - and be thankful for the beautiful part of this creation in which we live. And have a Happy Thanksgiving.
Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson Community News.