Wikipedia – Earth Day

Earth Day

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Earth Day is an annual event, celebrated on April 22, on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network,[1] and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.[2]

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in recognition of his work.[3] While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.[4][5] Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.

 

April 22 observances

Growing eco-activism before Earth Day 1970

In 1968, Morton Hilbert and the U.S. Public Health Service organized the Human Ecology Symposium, an environmental conference for students to hear from scientists about the effects of environmental degradation on human health.[32] This was the beginning of Earth Day. For the next two years, Hilbert and students worked to plan the first Earth Day.[33] In April 1970—along with a federal proclamation from U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson—the first Earth Day was held.[34]

Project Survival, an early environmentalism-awareness education event, was held at Northwestern University on January 23, 1970. This was the first of several events held at university campuses across the United States in the lead-up to the first Earth Day. Also, Ralph Nader began talking about the importance of ecology in 1970.

The 1960s had been a very dynamic period for ecology in the US. Pre-1960 grassroots activism against DDT in Nassau County, New York, had inspired Rachel Carson to write her bestseller, Silent Spring (1962).

Significance of April 22

Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an “environmental teach-in”. He determined the week of April 19–25 was the best bet as it did not fall during exams or spring breaks.[35] Moreover, it did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events—so he chose Wednesday, April 22. The day also fell after the anniversary of the birth of noted conservationist John Muir.

Unbeknownst to Nelson,[36] April 22, 1970, was coincidentally the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin, when translated to the Gregorian calendar (which the Soviets adopted in 1918). Time reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was “a Communist trick”, and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, “subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.”[37] J. Edgar Hoover, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, may have found the Lenin connection intriguing; it was alleged the FBI conducted surveillance at the 1970 demonstrations.[38] The idea that the date was chosen to celebrate Lenin’s centenary still persists in some quarters,[39][40] an idea borne out by the similarity with the subbotnik instituted by Lenin in 1920 as days on which people would have to do community service, which typically consisted in removing rubbish from public property and collecting recyclable material. Subbotniks were also imposed on other countries within the compass of Soviet power, including Eastern Europe, and at the height of its power the Soviet Union established a nation-wide subbotnik to be celebrated on Lenin’s birthday, April 22, which had been proclaimed a national holiday celebrating communism by Nikita Khrushchev in 1955.

Earth Day anthem

There are many songs that are performed on Earth Day, that generally fall into two categories. Popular songs by contemporary artists not specific to Earth Day that are under copyright or new lyrics adapted to children’s songs. UNESCO has termed Indian poet-diplomat Abhay K’s idea of an official Earth Anthem as a creative and inspiring thought that would contribute to bringing the world together.[41]“Earth Anthem” by Abhay K is in eight languages including all official languages of the United Nations viz. Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish.[42] The other two languages are Hindi and Nepali. It was launched in June 2013 on the occasion of the World Environment Day by Kapil Sibal and Shashi Tharoor, Union Ministers of India at a function organized by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in New Delhi.[43] India’s Central Board of Secondary Education or CBSE has started using it for educational purposes.[44]

The “Earth Day Anthem” below satisfies these requirements for a universal song associated with Earth Day. Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” melody is already the official anthem of the European Union (in that case purely instrumental without lyrics), the melody is widely recognized and easily performed, in the public domain, and originally composed for voice. Lyrics for the Earth Day Anthem set to “Ode to Joy”[45] are provided below:

Joyful joyful we adore our Earth in all its wonderment

Simple gifts of nature that all join into a paradise
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love throughout all time
With our gentle hand and touch
We make our home a newborn world
Now we must resolve to protect her
Show her our love throughout all time
With our gentle hand and touch

We make our home a newborn world

Wikipedia – Mantra

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Wikipedia – Mantra

A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of “creating transformation” (cf. spiritual transformation).[1] Its use and type varies according to the school and philosophy associated with the mantra.[2]

Mantras (Devanāgarī मन्त्र) originated in the Vedic tradition of India, becoming an essential part of the Hindu tradition and a customary practice within Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism.

In the context of the Vedas, the term mantra refers to the entire portion which contains the texts called Rig, Yajur or Sama, that is, the metrical part as opposed to the prose Brahmana commentary. With the transition from ritualistic Vedic traditions to mystical and egalitarian Hindu schools of Yoga, Vedanta, Tantra and Bhakti, the orthodox attitude of the elite nature of mantra knowledge gave way to spiritual interpretations of mantras as a translation of the human will or desire into a form of action.

For the authors of the Hindu scriptures of the Upanishads, the syllable Om, itself constituting a mantra, represents Brahman, the godhead, as well as the whole of creation. Kūkai suggests that all sounds are the voice of the Dharmakaya Buddha — i.e. as in Hindu Upanishadic and Yogic thought, these sounds are manifestations of ultimate reality, in the sense of sound symbolism postulating that the vocal sounds of the mantra have inherent meaning independent of the understanding of the person uttering them.

Nevertheless, such understanding of what a mantra may symbolize or how it may function differs throughout the various traditions and also depends on the context in which it is written or sounded. In some instances there are multiple layers of symbolism associated with each sound, many of which are specific to particular schools of thought. For an example of such see the syllable: Om which is central to both Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

While Hindu tantra eventually came to see the letters as well as the sounds as representatives of the divine, the shift toward writing occurred when Buddhism traveled to China. Although China lacked a unifying, ecclesiastic language like Sanskrit, China achieved its cultural unity through a written language with characters that were flexible in pronunciation but more precise in meaning. The Chinese prized written language much more highly than did the Indian Buddhist missionaries, and the writing of mantras became a spiritual practice in its own right. So that whereas Brahmins had been very strict on correct pronunciation, the Chinese, and indeed other Far-Eastern Buddhists were less concerned with this than correctly writing something down. The practice of writing mantras, and copying texts as a spiritual practice, became very refined in Japan, and the writing in the Siddham script in which the Sanskrit of many Buddhist Sutras were written is only really seen in Japan nowadays. However, written mantra-repetition in Hindu practices, with Sanskrit in any number of scripts, is well-known to many sects in India as well.