As we enter a new presidency, a new era, and a new decade, we are still so divided on so many issues. In a time when we actually have science and technology to effectively research and understand the way that things work and find lasting solutions, many have dismissed it. And in a time when we should be saying, “Look how far we’ve come!” we find ourselves saying, “Look how far we have yet to go.” We are so stuck in echo chambers that we try to fit everyone into a set box and forget to make up our minds as individuals on each and every topic that comes our way. Instead of challenging ideas and doing our own research and soul searching, we follow extremist and polarizing headlines and get in line with the rest of the followers in our political “box.” And that is such a dangerous place to be because when we do that, we forget to think for ourselves, and we forget to think about others as individuals.
It is not about being a Republican or a Democrat, it is about being a human being. While I can sit here and choose to nod along with those around me, my heart is not always there. Because while I nod along, there are things that I know need to be addressed, that I know need to be changed and transformed. There are things that I cannot, in good conscience, turn a blind eye to. The climate emergency we are facing is real, scary, and it is happening right now. We see the health impacts of it spanning across the world and our country, from exacerbated heat exhaustion and death to increases in severe asthma and allergies.
The amount of money that has been spent to try and pick up the pieces after devastating disasters like the recent wildfires, hurricanes and floods has doubled over and again, acting as a band aid on a problem that, like the disasters, is only increasing in violence and veracity. These disasters are getting more catastrophic and more frequent as time goes on. We need to do our part to demand change, and soon. We need to speak up and show the world that we are not backing down from this crisis, instead we are meeting it head on. We need to start PREVENTING disasters, not throwing money at picking up the pieces after the damage has been done. So, this is not about a political party, or any one person’s agenda…this is about people. It’s about taking care of this incredible planet that we have been blessed with…preserving it and guarding it. This is about looking at your neighbor and saying, “I care about your wellbeing.” This is about looking at our children and being able to tell them, “I did my part to make sure you have a safe, healthy, prospering earth to live in.”
Hold yourself accountable, hold your organization accountable, and let’s hold each other accountable.
As the new year is in full swing, I vow to do my part to step up and make changes toward a more sustainable, safe, prosperous world for all. Will you join me?
Kellianne Yarnall is an Office Assistant with Oakland County Parks and a Climate for Health Ambassador.