By Tony Giordano, member of the UU Congregation of Monmouth County, NJ, an adjunct instructor and research consultant in social science, and a volunteer member of Citizens Climate Lobby.

If you look up the name of our home planet in most any dictionary, you will see the word “earth.” The fact that it’s not capitalized may seem trivial, but it’s symbolic of the overall way we tend to view our home planet. No respect. Ironically, the other planets are capitalized, as are names of countries, people, automobiles, and so on.

I find it very odd that appreciation for the Earth continues to be so lacking. Why is that? Should we not know better by now? Happily, Unitarian Universalists are much more likely than most to show the proper respect and appreciation.

Though we see people give endless praise and thanks to a creator, many fail to recognize the life-giving force that we walk on every day and from which we obtain food, shelter and the many resources that support our lavish lifestyles. The way we plunder and pillage its precious assets and decimate its delicate ecosystems, I wonder if anything dearer to life could ever be more taken-for-granted and abused. Fracking, mountaintop removal, toxic and leak-prone oil pipelines, the growing release of climate-changing greenhouse gases—the list goes on and on.

If there’s anything that is sacred and deserving of thanks and protection, is it not the Earth?

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on Earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh

As we enter a new era in human history—which many scientists are beginning to call the anthropocene for the catastrophic, widespread damage man is doing to the Earth’s ecosystems, wildlife, and climate—it’s high time to fully recognize and protect this infinitely rare and spectacular planet of ours that gives and sustains life.

The natural world is not only beautiful and precious and inspiring, it’s essential to our own material existence. Let’s start acting that way, beginning with government policy toward the planet. There’s so much we need to do to ensure that the Earth can continue to sustain life well into the future.

Can we at least start writing, “Earth?”