January 1 is an arbitrary date, decided by a pope or an emperor somewhere in the mists of time. There are many cultures around the world that celebrate a different New Year. Yet they’ve all come to agree that for practical purposes, we all start anew on January 1. In a time when it seems like the world is being ripped apart by sectarian violence, separatists and who should have won American Idol, it’s easy for us to miss how fantastically unified the world is comparing to the way it was even fifty years ago.
Who would have thought that an Ohio housewife would be adding cumin to her beans? Or that Swedish pop stars would hire Muslim Qawwali singers as back up? As we speak, millions of people of every nationality are watching Kim Kardashian, an Armenian-American celebutante, shop, fight with her sisters, have sex, and sell perfume without once thinking that her great grandparents fled genocide, or even about whether she’s American or Armenian. Small children know what they want at the Chinese take-out place. I never even tasted Chinese food (except an unsatisfying encounter with a can of Chun King at a friend’s house) until I was seventeen. Tea Party members use phones manufactured in Korea and watch Hi Def TVs made in Japan. Leftist environmentalists fuel their cars with biodiesel made from palm oil grown in Indonesia. Taliban fighters post on Facebook and make You Tube videos. We really are the world. And for the world at large, the new year begins on January 1.
There are those who believe that the Earth is a living being, some even go so far as to say a female being. I got to thinking about how she’s looking at 2011. Is she done with us? Does she have any advice for the new year?
So I got in touch with Mother Earth, (it’s in my unlimited plan from ATT). It took a while to find a common language, my cellphone translation app couldn’t seem to understand EARTH. We finally settled on an email chat which I translated on Babelfish, a name she really appreciated. Ma Earth of course had no need to type, since she is everything.
Me: So, Mother, may I call you Mother? Is it true? Is the human experiment over?
Earth: Oh my goodness! Is that what you call yourselves? That sounds so serious. I was just having a bit of fun when I let you all start running around all over me.
Me: What do you mean? We’ve dumped billions of tons of plastic, poisoned the air, wiped out countless species, waged wars that have killed millions. You call that fun?
Earth: Well I thought you’d enjoy participating in the terra forming.
Earth: I’m wanting a new look. You know, things have been pretty much status quo for a few eons. Even before you all appeared, things had pretty much evened out. Oh sure, I’d get a visit now and then from a passing asteroid or comet, bringing in some new material, some new ideas. And the sun is good for a few solar storms here and there. But really, since I messed around with splitting the continents and tipped the axis a bit so I could get a a little snow, OK a lot of snow, life’s been pretty ho hum in the creativity department. I admit I did get a little carried away with that Ice Age.
Me: So what are you saying, that we are doing what you want right now?
Earth: #%&k0*! Oh oops. That got lost in translation. I was just laughing. Gotta be careful, that’s been known to set off volcanoes in Indonesia. Of course you’re doing what I want! Do you actually think you’re in charge? Oh, ho, ho, that is precious!
Me: Um. Yes, Ma’am, Mother, um. Are you saying we’re NOT responsible for global warming?
Earth: Well, now that depends on your point of view. 6 billion bodies riding in cars, not to mention the 100 million tons of methane from farting cows has been a big help. Oh yes, and the plastic. I’ve been wanting to get all that oil out of my pores for ages. Which reminds me, do you think I look fat?
Me: What? Fat? I mean, you’re, you know, round…ish. But you’re a planet, aren’t planets supposed to be round?
Earth: Someone said I’m pear shaped. How rude is that. I’m just trying to expand possibilities. After all, galaxies can be whatever shape they want. I just think I’d look cute with a little cinch around the equator, maybe a gaseous glow above China.
Me: I think there’s one there already. Smells bad though.
Earth: How can anything smell bad? It’s all organic! So what did you want to know?
Me: The future. Our future. Humanity. Are we going to be extinct?
Earth: Now whatever gave you such an idea? What would mosquitoes eat? How would all my viruses survive? Why a world without humans would be a disaster! Look what it was like before you got here, same old same old. Nobody messing with the chemistry. Nobody altering the environment. Sure the dinosaurs did a little reconfiguring, but then they got wiped out, oh that was a depressing time, it took me FOREVER to clean up after that asteroid came by. Left some good minerals though. Humans also have such high entertainment value. Honestly, I never know what you’re going to do next. One minute you’re blowing each other up, the next minute you’re all dancing to Beyoncé. One minute you’re sacrificing animals (whose idea was that anyway?) and the next you’re protecting them.
Me: Gee, I never thought about myself as entertainment.
Earth: The ultimate spectacle! You’re better than the movies.
Me: Ahem. So, do you have any advice for us? I mean is there anything we should be doing?
Earth: Who do you think I am, your mother? Oh, right, I guess I am. I don’t know what anybody SHOULD do. Only thing I’d suggest is to stop being so afraid of each other. I mean, it’s not like anybody really wins in the end. Go find someone you hate and give her a big hug. From me. Gotta go, one of my glaciers is calving and I need to be there for the delivery.
Me: Well, thanks, I guess. Great talking to you.
Earth: And chocolate! Eat more chocolate. When you smile, I smile. Ciao.
So there you have it. Chocolate and hugs. Sounds like a plan. Happy New Year.