Daniela Ginta writes for the Armchair Mayor News on Fridays.
COLUMN — It was when I broke my leg almost four years ago that I was humbled by the new knowledge I was gathering as I was making my way about town on the way to teaching, taking my sons to school or getting groceries. Every task proved challenging and I often thought of those who struggle with permanent health issues. Sobering indeed.
Not that I did not care before, but I can attest to having gained more empathy towards those who need a door open or any kind of locomotion-related help.
That story repeats itself with just about every facet of life. Walking a mile, or less, in somebody’s shoes, does give us a measure of their challenges. No questions asked need not apply, as long as questions are not thrown with accusatory angles but from trying to know more in order to understand more.
The recent cosmetic pesticide issue is but another example of this and more. On Saturday, while making the rounds at the farmers’ market, I got to chat with Diane, who would like to see cosmetic pesticides banned soon. She is highly allergic to them and the allergy is severe enough to make her reach for her Epi-Pen whenever the wind brings the chemical wafts her way. That’s some pricey green grass.
I sympathize, because I’ve been there through my youngest son’s cat-triggered asthma attacks. The four hours spent counting the minutes until he could breathe again on his own were by far the longest of my life. The most frightening too.
I have yet to know – if I ever will – why his body reacts the way it does when in proximity to cats, but what I came to know after many hours of reading and research on the topic of immune reactions is that our immediate environment contains an increasing variety of chemicals that are affecting our bodies, and even more so our children’s growing bodies, and there is enough scientific evidence behind many of them to warrant them undesirable.
It is not the one time exposure that does that but the cumulative effects of many times when our children come in contact with foreign chemicals. From pollution due to traffic-derived gas exhaust, to industrial pollution, both of which are felt even stronger in summer months when low level ozone adds to the problem, to the widespread application of cosmetic pesticides, our children and us too, have a lot to put up with.
I have to admit to never being an advocate for lawns, unless that grass grows on its own volition. If we have to wrestle every bit of weed (which dandelions are not, but they should truly be reclassified as edible, good-for-health plants) by applying chemicals that children and pets are exposed to, it is perhaps high time we rethink the green concept.
The challenge of seeing our world transformed – not in the best way – by myriad of industries, many of which show little if any consideration for our (and theirs) environment, calls for a return to the roots, in the truest sense, in order to make the world last for many more generations.
It is hard to get attached to perfect lawns when the health of many is affected by the process of keeping them green and perfect. More so when the said lawns are pleasing to the eye but do little else than just use up a significant volume of water, even during the driest months, when water is, as we are learning more and more, increasingly precious and scarce at the same time in many areas around the globe.
As with many things, and unfortunately so, one sees clearer and understands others’ plea once they get to that fork in the road themselves, which we should do our best to not let happen. There is no bargaining when it comes to health and once we realize how beautifully complex and amazing the human body is, really, how can we ever equate that to perfect lawns?
The way I see it, health comes first and that is achieved when water, air and soil are as clean as can be. One too many times during our recent history we have witnessed the opposite and it is not pretty, or honourable.
Mine projects are getting closer to being approved with each day despite the fact that objective environmental reviews are yet to come, tailing ponds rupture and end up affecting entire communities whose voices fade under the loud rumble of today’s other news, and chemicals are still being used in growing and packaging food when studies show clear evidence of adverse or downright toxic effects.
It’s time to reconsider priorities. In cases where knowledge can be brought forth to serve a good cause, what can possibly stop us as a collective to accept it, stand for what’s right and build ourselves up as a community where people matter most? Because we do, each and every one of us.