Down to Earth
In studying the Earth, both academically and in a more personal, philosophical and spiritual manner, I’ve come to love and appreciate both the Earth itself and what it provides for me. I grew up right here, in California, and I was taught not to litter. I also was taught to leave a picnic spot or camp site cleaner than when I got there, and to recycle. As a child I never really understood, though it was explained, why I should do these things and why they were good for the environment. It didn’t matter. I did them anyway because that’s what I was taught. I did them simply because that’s what I was supposed to do.
As I grew up and studied the earth, I had a slow and gradual realization that the world doesn’t revolve around me. The earth provides me with the land on which I build my house. The earth provides the materials necessary to construct my home, food to feed my family and water to drink. It’s these things the Earth provides for me to live, so to not have them is not to be alive. It’s this connection and dependence on the Earth that teaches me to value and respect the Earth, because to harm the Earth is to harm myself.
I believe it was my upbringing that lead me to the true understanding of the value of Earth, for me and all mankind. It’s also from the past mistakes of our ancestors that I learned these values—from the over-harvesting of California kelp beds to the near extinction of the American bison. Humankind’s current practice of the exploitation of Earth’s finite resources, and the environmental hazards that these practices have caused, enable me to put the importance of how I live my life into perspective with how I should live my life in relation to the Earth. I believe in attaining a balance between the resources we use and our ability to replenish them. I believe in clean air, clean water and clean energy. I believe these values are attainable, and I must do my part to uphold them and pass them on. If these values are high on the priority of most people’s values, Earth’s balance will be achieved.
Ethan Wieser was born in Redwood City and grew up in San Jose. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps when college didn’t seem to fit. After serving five years, including one tour in Iraq, Ethan now is back in school and says he is loving it. He has a wife and two children.