Earth Day, April 22, is sandwiched between Tax Day, April 15, and Workers Memorial Day, April 28. Just around the corner is May Day, May 1, the international workers day and a day for flower baskets and maypoles. What do they all have in common?
An economy powered by two toxic pollutants: oil and corporate greed. Misplaced priorities that send more than half of our tax dollars to military spending that kills people, ruins lives, pollutes the planet and wrecks our economy. Damaging foreign policy driven by a quest to secure oil. Workers’ lives lost and health destroyed because of corporate greed. A system that puts profit before people and ravages the earth along the way. And the need for workers and people of the world to unite, to love and preserve our planet and to build a better world.
It’s clearer than ever that the present system can’t continue. It’s not sustainable, either economically or environmentally. Vast parts of our country are industrial wastelands —empty factories, mills, warehouses and storefronts testify to jobs gone forever. In too many places, military bases and industries, or prisons, are the best or only jobs around. Toxic “brownfields” and Superfund sites dot urban and rural landscapes. Open green space, family farms, woods and wetlands have been plowed under for wasteful exurban sprawl and industrial “parks” — many now sporting “for lease” and “foreclosure” signs. Industrial agriculture has brought degraded and tainted food, pollution and toxic working conditions.
Turning this around means getting our economic system in sync with Mother Nature — greening our economy. It means a massive national undertaking to invest in sustainable, non-polluting energy, industry and transportation systems; in well-planned, vibrant and sustainable “green” cities, towns and rural communities; in education, health care and culture to produce an informed and involved citizenry. Of course, that means putting people, and nature, before profits. This won’t happen without a fight.
Earth Day and May Day remind us to breathe the beauty of the flowers of spring and the roses of summer and struggle. “Love your mother” — planet Earth, and, in the words of labor organizer Mother Jones, “fight like hell for the living.”