The Ecological Crisis is a Spiritual Crisis
I’ve been aware of the plight of monarch butterflies for more than five years and, in response, I planted a modest milkweed garden, attempted to make Minneapolis a monarch butterfly sanctuary, and started a Facebook group — Bring Back a Billion Butterflies — to help educate others about the looming crisis. I have even spoken publicly of how monarchs served as a wake-up call for me both personally and professionally.
This all seemed sufficiently satisfying until I received a news story on my phone from my sister — After Thanksgiving Count — Western Monarch Near Extinction. The iconic butterfly could be gone from the face of the earth forever as soon as next year!
As I contemplated this deplorable situation for the better part of yesterday, I began researching what else I might do (The Xerces Society is an excellent resource). Next, I used my poetry to both channel my anger and help awaken others to the reality that one of Mother Nature’s most graceful and beautiful creatures is hurling headlong toward oblivion.
Still, something was nagging at me. I felt like I could and should do more. Then, suddenly, it hit me — I am a hypocrite.The ecological crisis is really a spiritual crisis. Until I change myself and fully accept that everyone and everything is connected, the extinction of monarch butterflies — as well as countless other ecological crises — will continue.
It is true that the plight of the western monarch is being stressed by a rapidly changing climate, polluted air, fouled waters, habitat destruction, and the over usage of pesticides. It is far too easy, however, to place the blame on short-sighted fossil fuel executives, greedy agri-business companies, and profit-seeking real estate developers. The truth is that I use, benefit, and enjoy the cost, convenience, and comfort of the products and services that each of these industries provide.
In short, I am not a savior, I am the problem. Maybe, though, this is the first step. We all want solutions but few of us are willing to search the one place where answers can be found — ourselves. For me, I am going to begin by trying to follow Thoreau’s advice to “simplify, simplify, simplify.”
Jack Uldrich is an author. His latest book is Business as Unusual: A Futurist’s Unorthodox, Unconventional, and Uncomfortable Guide to Doing Business (River Grove, 2020).