The Unanswered Question

Forty nine years ago, U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson put a call out to those concerned about protecting our environment. Over 20 million people answered his call on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970. (Earth Day Network, That day in a speech in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Senator Nelson asked: “Are we able? Yes. Are we willing? That’s the unanswered question.” (Video at Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, Nearly a half century later, his Earth Day question desperately needs a solid YES from people everywhere across this globe. Now more than ever, we must commit to a new way forward—one that places a priority on environmental protection and restoration everywhere—every day of the year. There should be no political divide and no hesitation in homes, businesses, voting booths, communities, states and countries across our Earth because this is a matter of living and thriving versus suffering and worse.

I asked a college student in wildlife ecology recently how she felt about her future knowing about the seriousness of environmental problems facing her including the accelerated rate of species extinction on Earth. Ashley said that some days, she wants to “curl up in a fetal position and just cry.” Other days, though, she feels that she needs to keep marching forward to do the best she can to make something of her life. Failure is simply not an option. She will do whatever it takes to make a positive difference on “her” planet, she says.

Do you think Ashley’s drive and her commitment to being an agent for change are shared by the majority of young people who will be our planet’s leaders tomorrow? Unfortunately, I don’t think so, as much as I would love to imagine it.

That’s why I’m working to empower more young people to stand up for themselves, their planet and their future. My book, EMPOWERED: One Planet At A Time, will be published this fall and promoted worldwide. It is intended for young adults who want to build their confidence, knowledge and skills in addressing issues that concern them. Because social and environmental issues are interrelated, young adults will find support applicable to both. This book will also provide teachers and mentors/parents of young adults with a great resource. It will be particularly helpful to support service learning projects because it lays out a process that takes readers from “me” to “legacy.” My landing page link is found here where you are invited to get connected and stay connected as we energize and support our next generation of leaders. EMPOWERED: One Planet At A Time will help young adults see themselves as powerhouses who can tap their energy to effectively bring about the changes they need to see locally and globally for a brighter future. And then, perhaps, the unanswered question will be answered once and for all.