The People’s Climate March on September 21, 2014 was significant for many reasons, but for me the most important was its inclusiveness. The causes represented spanned everything from labor rights to veganism to water protection to nuclear disarmament. But underlying all the concerns is a love for our home, our precious planet, that is strong enough to get people off their couches and into the streets.
I have loved nature for as long as I can remember. I spent hours romping through the woods and exploring my dad’s vegetable garden when I was a kid, and our vacations happened in an 6-person Coleman tent that included cots and a 100-pound St. Bernard.
As an adult, I have struggled to find a place where I felt at home in the “environmental movement.” Who is my pack?
Hikers? I’ve never been able to carry a backpack for very long because of back problems. Pagans? I love the idea, but the reality is a little too out there for me. Organic farmers? Mostly a little too hippy, and then there’s that back problem again. Conservationists? Often too scientific and dry. Horticulturists? Beautiful but often at the expense of people and nature. Activists? I’m an introvert.
While I draw inspiration from each of these groups, I never feel fully a part of any of them.
A giant protest march would not be an event I would normally want to attend. I don’t like crowds and only enjoy the city in small doses, so spending a day with 400,000 people jammed together like sardines sounds more like a punishment than fun. But something inside said, “Go. Show your love for this planet by going.” So I listened.
And what I experienced is that my tribe is ALL of us. I don’t have to identify with a particular group. I don’t have to subscribe to an ideology. I can love this planet in my own way and do what I can from there. And there are a LOT of other people doing the same thing.
“In a world full of people who couldn’t care less, we have the opportunity to be someone who couldn’t care more.” —Cheri Huber
As my Zen teacher Cheri also says, “How we do anything is how we do everything.” I can go through life looking for my tribe and finding something wrong with each group, and the experience of life I will have is “I don’t belong” and “No one (including me) is doing it quite right.”
Or, I can love the planet and care for it in my own way and have the experience of loving and caring. In that, I find everyone is my tribe, and that makes complete sense to me.