19 August 2015

Trees are noble teachers

This is the forty first in a series I am writing for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The series is for children. Adults, consider yourselves warned...you might re-discover a child within you! Scroll down for other articles in this series. 

Trees don’t hold posters.  Posters are sometimes pinned on them of course but trees don’t protest or if they did in some way we don’t notice.  It is said that plants also feel pain.  Maybe they also cry, only they weep different kinds of tears.  We know what tears of a human look like, so maybe we don’t recognize the tears of a plant.  We know what a yelp sounds like but maybe trees express pain in different ways.  Maybe we just don’t know their language.  

Let’s leave all that aside.  There are things we do know, things that everyone knows.  For example, humans pollute.  Lots of things we use come in wrappers. We use and we drop the wrappers.  Of course we do use waste paper baskets and garbage bags.  We also recycle, reuse and reduce.  That’s us doing our best to manage the problem.  All good.  If everyone did that it would be lovely.  Maybe one day we will all do our little bit.  

But what of trees?  They, like us, need nourishment. They also breathe.  So, in other words, they also consumer.  What they consumer, however, don’t come wrapped, unless of course we are talking about crops that have been designed to depend on heavy chemical inputs which of course come packeted.  But by and large, trees don’t ask, they don’t complain. They get by with what’s available.  

Trees soak in the sunlight.  They put out roots and draw out nourishment from the earth.  Maybe the earth, the sun and the wind shower plants with multiple gifts simply because most species mind their own business.  They don’t gossip.  They are not envious.  And they don’t litter.  Every leaf that falls turns into fertilizer by and by.  

Maybe if we noticed plants more we’ll learn a lot not only about plants but about all the things that we do, both the good and bad.  Plants ‘breathe’.  We do too.  Plants give out Oxygen, we give out Carbon Dioxide.  Maybe plants are better evolved.  

Of course we cannot reformulate our systems so that we ‘breathe in’ Carbon Dioxide and exhale Oxygen, but if we are conscious of how much we waste and how we pollute we could behave in different ways so that we don’t litter the earth with impurities.  We could do something about ‘wrappers’ to begin with.  In a world where almost everything is handed to us either wrapped in plastic or put in plastic containers we can, whenever possible, say ‘I don’t need the bag’.  We could take a basket to market.  We could do a lot of things like that.

We could also grow a small patch of grass.  A 2.4 square meter patch of grass will daily convert enough carbon dioxide to supply your daily oxygen requirement.  Try growing it and you can at least be happy that you’ve paid for the air you breathe.  Grow a plant and that’s a gift to everyone around you including all other creatures that breathe. Plant a fruit tree and it would be a daily almsgiving to all creatures that feed on it, birds, monkeys, squirrels, bees, butterflies, worms and other insects too.

Trees don’t hold up posters.  We don’t have to either.  Trees live in particular ways. Our ways our different.  But we can be like trees without being less of who we are.

Other articles in this series