Opinion: Activism starts with your mind, then your feet

A+fire+near+Loyalton%2C+California+is+one+of+many+that+indicate+a+warm%2C+dry+fire+season+in+the+western+U.S.

Kayla Heidenreich

A fire near Loyalton, California is one of many that indicate a warm, dry fire season in the western U.S.

Kayla Heidenreich, Editor

The trap of giving up hope in our world at this point in time is almost inevitable. The grass is dried up, the trees are in flames and the connection has been lost. While all of this is happening the possibility of change looms through the smog that fills the sky, but it is still within our grasp. My personal growth is a symbol of hope that I am proud to cling onto in my darkest moments. I still have so much to accomplish but comparing my old mindset to my current one helps me understand that it is possible for anyone to change points of view.

I am a 21-year-old white girl majoring in outdoor adventure leadership with a focus in sustainability, who was born and raised in the little hippie town of Bellingham, Washington. I grew up in a semi-outdoorsy family that prioritized the environment and healthy eating. While it seems as if I had a paved road to success to become an activist for the environment, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

One of my first memories is me sitting in my backyard eating a pixie stick. I finished it, buried the wrapper and I rationalized myself littering by saying “It’s one tiny wrapper. What is the worst it’s going to do?”

This was the beginning of it all: Using single use plastic water bottles for soccer practice, going out to eat fast food for lunch and throwing my trash out the window, leaving all the lights on in my house and overall being completely unaware and uninterested on my impact to the environment. This is probably the hardest thing ever to admit, due to the fact that I now pride myself in my outdoor skills and environmental knowledge; identifying myself as an outdoorsman. BUT. I have realized that this is a healthy thing to discuss and embrace as a piece of my journey. As a society, normalizing changing opinions is more crucial than ever.

The two most important tools humans are equipped with are the mind and feet. Without these two things humans would not be able to think of how to adapt or then to follow through with those thoughts. We cannot fault the current destruction of our planet on rapid growth because humans were simply adapting and trying to make life “better.” As humans we have become disconnected, we are not only disconnected from each other but more importantly mother earth.

In order to reconnect we need to adapt to our new normal. While it may be easy to say, “I can’t wait for 2020 to be over,” and expect to wake up in 2021 to clear skies, blossoming trees and a brand new societal structure, that is not the case. We need to work towards curing the structurally rooted disease the earth faces rather than taking medicine to cover up the symptoms. I did not learn about the 7 Leave No Trace principals until I was 18 years old. I did not truly begin to understand the racism built into our country until the death of George Floyd. I did not learn about the mental struggle the Indigenous people of our country go through every day until I took a class on the Arctic Refuge this year. I didn’t put my knowledge to action and become a vegetarian until five months ago. This is all too late, but at least I got there.

Mother earth is the truest form of life. Nothing would stand, eat, breath or speak without her. The boxes that surround us distract us from her circular intentions. All things alive do not come in straight congruent lines. Nothing grows in cities besides revenue, and we can physically survive without revenue. We cannot survive without the Amazon’s lush trees that give people and animals the air they need to breathe. We cannot survive without the snow that covers the mountains, which controls the earth’s surface temperature and refills our water sources. The oceans, which hold the biggest mystery we possess on earth, cannot sustain life for much longer with such a large increase of acidification. The boxes the majority of humans are living in are trapping and separating us from becoming back a part of mother earth’s natural cycle of life and becoming reconnected.

It is never too late to question things, learn, adapt and take action. Use your mind and then your feet.

Kayla Heidenreich is an SNU senior.