Picture of woman in mask

Beasts

Even with all our medical technologies, we cannot have well humans on a sick planet.

The words are scary. Newscasters shout the cataclysmic, dire predictions about the state of our planet from screens we can’t escape.

The truth is, though, most of us haven’t heard of ocean acidification or nitrogen discharge. Most of us don’t understand the significance of 350 PPM and how our ever-present masks are connected to bat habitats and wet markets 6,000 miles away.

We’re spending time with our families, juggling responsibilities, trying to cobble together dinner. We’re busy living, often too busy to consider too much of anything in too much detail.

Most of us, however, do sense something is off. We sense these abstract, often hard-to-understand disturbances reflect things we’re doing. We sense they’re part of a pattern, an interconnected web that finds us at the center.

We know somehow we’re dragging these things closer to us by driving our cars, by flying off to Europe, by grilling hotdogs in our backyards.

We celebrated Earth Day’s 50th anniversary amid the worst pandemic in a century. Suddenly, we’re forced to confront an uncomfortable truth: There is not human health or climate health or animal health, there is only health.

We’re all connected, dependent on each other. There’s only this one small, interconnected world, where every breath of air and each bite of food is made up of molecules that have passed through both time and species, across party lines, traversing continents to meet you where you are at this exact moment.

And every day, we learn health does not respect the walls between species, political parties or borders.

“Even with all our medical technologies, we cannot have well humans on a sick planet,” Thomas Berry, who among other things was a family farmer, said.

This view of health starts with some of our most important choices: what we eat every day. More than anything else, this decision matters most.

There’s no reason to overcomplicate this.