Two loves have motivated much of what I do: a love for the earth, and a love for the young generation who I hope will be able to live as well as we have (but I fear may not).
I like to think I share with the hunters and fishermen of our beautiful Shenandoah Valley that love for this piece of earth that is our home. And share also a love for our planet itself – which is also our home, and so wonderfully ordered that it provides us with the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. The earth on which, in other words, we depend for our very lives.
When I was a child, the scientists didn’t know what a vast number of planets there are beyond our solar system, and they didn’t know how special our own earth is among planets for its (so far) unique life-sustaining conditions.
But I didn’t need to know those things to experience the beauty of our earth. It began when, as a kid, I thoughtlessly began to appreciate the wonders of the world around me – drinking in the sweetness of lilac as I roller skated past our neighbor’s hedge; chasing lightening bugs barefoot through the grass on a summer evening; examining the winter’s first snowflakes as they fell.
All that deepened one special day as my adolescence was just beginning. I recall vividly my experience, walking alone in the arboretum near our home. I stood in wonder by a tiny stream that ran through a meadow-like space in the arboretum. The stream was a pretty little thing, running clear and unencumbered between grassy banks, over stones and mosses. I felt a stirring inside, a new aliveness.
I believe such feelings are natural to us all, that they are part of our very love of life itself.
Of course, there’s plenty that people have always had to fear from nature. But even as nature contains things that can threaten us, we must instinctively appreciate that we cannot live without this intricate order, and be grateful for it. (I recall reading about the hunter-gatherers described in the book, “The Forest People”, how they sing to their jungle forest, expressing their love of the green world that sustains them.)
It is that love of our earth that explains why, more than a decade ago, I created my own website to “nourish and inspire those who love the earth.”
And it was that same love that later inspired me to run for the Virginia State Senate. I made that decision – one I never expected to make – for two reasons.
First, my love of the earth had led me to pay a lot of attention to the warnings being given by a whole field of science: i.e. the alarm being raised by almost all of the world’s climate scientists, warning us that humanity’s cumulative emissions into the atmosphere were dangerously destabilizing the earth’s climate system. I learned how this destabilization seriously threatens the future for our children and grandchildren—threatening them with greater dangers of famine, disease, war, and a wave of extinctions.
And second, I felt impelled to run because I saw that in Virginia, greedy corporations were willing to sacrifice our children’s future and the health of life on earth for their own short-term profits. And I saw that these forces had bought so many of Virginia’s elected politicians – from both parties – that they could block responsible action to address those future dangers.
I saw that one of the politicians doing the bidding of those forces of greed – like his rich donors Dominion Energy and the Koch Brothers – was the senator “representing” our district, Mark Obenshain. And so I challenged him in 2015, and this year I’m challenging him again.
Back in 2015, Mr. Obenshain mocked me by calling me a “climate activist.” He apparently meant that label as a put-down, but I wear it proudly. It is love that drives my concern for treating the world around us with the necessary care – my love for the earth that sustains us, and my love for the coming generations to whom we owe it to pass along a world as healthy as the one that was handed down to us.
I’m motivated by love. I’d like to ask Mr. Obenshain what motivates him to serve the forces of greed. And I’d like to ask the voters: which of us two candidates is truly “pro-life”?