The Night Before Later

This poem by Muriel Jarvis reflects on the meaning of Earth Day

Shanghai from space. (Image from NASA/Jasmin Moghbeli)

‘Twas the night before Later and all ‘round the Earth
Billions had neglected their Planet’s true worth.
They’d plied their technology to try and repair
But damage from centuries had led to despair.

The values of humans had effectively consumed
All Mother Earth’s treasures, leaving no room
For insects and mammals and reptiles and birds,
And waters and soils were spent beyond words.

For centuries humans had acted like gods
Wielding our power to filch and defraud
Our planetary partners of all of their means,
To feed our own need for comfort and ease.

Then we enacted a day once a year
Earth Day we called it, and gave a loud cheer.
We’d finally focused on making a change
A critical launch, our values rearranged!

The suburb and surrounding farms of Simsbury, CT (Image from NASA/Joshua Stevens; USGS)

But one day a year is only a fraction,
Over three hundred others without any action
Will never amount to a great change of course,
As a matter of fact it had gotten much worse!

The number of people had surged and exploded
All wanting the good life for which they had voted,
With cars, big houses, heaps of food and stuff
And all of the trimmings – it’s never enough.

Then those with the factories were poised to supply
The articles that billions were wanting to buy,
Which spawned greenhouse gases that spread through the air
And fires and floods popped up everywhere.

But “Jobs and economy” were the cries of the nations
And never a thought to the Planet’s situation.
“Plundering resources is part of God’s plan,
The planet’s a smorgasbord for the dominion of man!”

Utah’s evergreens and golden aspens burn. (Image from NASA/Grace Weikert)

This foundational thinking that puts humans first
Has led to the problem with which we are cursed.
Our belief systems see us as separate from nature,
The top of the heap – the greatest in stature.

Yet we are dependent on all of Earth’s partners
The air and the animals, the woods and the waters.
Our interdependence with all living beings
Must now be the doctrine that gives our life meaning!

Don’t count on our technical marvels to mend
The harm that our self-centered values began.
Our grandchildren’s future is now in our hands
The change won’t be easy – we must take a stand.

Transforming our systems to lessen our footprint
And shifting our values – all part of the blueprint.
And revering Gaia, as Gaians we must
To safeguard our future – in the Planet we trust!

Which brings us to now, when so much is at stake
We have some important decisions to make.
As we ponder tomorrow, our lives to arrange,
Is it the night before Later – or the night before CHANGE!

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