No one likes tantrums. You don’t need to be a parent to observe a fair share of this unpleasant phenomenon. You may have thrown some yourself as a child. Kids lay flat on the ground shouting and kicking, some scream their heads off, and some will hit or hurt others, all to let out their anger, fear, or frustration. A tantrum usually means that the child’s wishes or needs are unfulfilled, and they are trying to communicate their needs, with the immediate communication tools they have. When tantrums happen more frequently, there is likely an unresolved issue.
Kids’ tantrums are displeasing yet mostly harmless. Adults’ tantrums can be riskier. Earth’s tantrums can cause devastating damage.
Earth’s tantrums are increasing lately. Earth is huffing and puffing strong winds and storms, mad with extreme heat waves, sad with cloudbursts and downpours of tears, distant with prolonged periods of drought, and rambling with earthquakes.
Parents don’t necessarily know what to do when tantrums happen. My instinct as a parent is to try to fight it by attempting to tone down the behavior, avoiding it by distraction or gift offering or ignoring it thinking there is nothing I can do hoping it will pass. Ideal parenting, which is much more challenging and takes effort and practice, is to acknowledge that the tantrum is the symptom behind the problem. That there is an unfulfilled need behind it, understand the need, show empathy, and try to fulfill the need, or negotiate a win/win solution.
One instinct that we humans have in the face of Earth’s unhappiness is to try to fight climate change. We add one technology on top of the other. We try to grow food faster and use desalination so we can reduce our water dependency on the natural cycle. Some even suggest controversial/manipulative methods such as injecting aerosols into the stratosphere to dim the sun or creating a planetary sun shade to block some of it. Another instinct is to ignore it altogether with denial, and hope it will pass. Some wish to walk away, turning their backs on Earth and trying to look into moving to other planets. As with parenthood, our instinctual behaviors are not always ideal.
What if we try to implement ideal parenting to Earth’s tantrums? Worth a try?
The first step is to acknowledge that there are unfulfilled needs. People are mainly concerned about human needs and how we utilize Earth to get them. The opposite path is rarely considered. Recognizing that we hold a part in caring for the earth is a big step and is a growing trend. Next, we should explore what can be done within our power to help fulfill Earth’s needs. As with kids, we should be more attentive and caring. Underlying needs are often more attention and affection. Come to think of it, we have detached ourselves from nature for so long, that attention is probably what earth needs the most.
Many organizations are already implementing the care and attention Earth needs. Restoration, reforestation, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, and more. All of these are amazing efforts and operations. Yet, it doesn’t mean we can sit and watch cross-handed. Earth needs attention from all of us. So what can we do on a daily basis?
No one is an expert yet, but many are trying. Every notion that involves care and nurture to Earth will be as good as any. A good start would be to consider our daily habits. Acknowledge the connection we have with the plants, animals, and soil surrounding our homes. Acknowledge how much we are taking from Earth vs. how much we are giving back. Consider what we buy and how much of it we end up not using and throwing away. We can try to plant and garden more, enhance the natural presence around us, or simply support those who do. We can try to compost, and learn about regenerative gardening and permaculture. Whatever it is, we must do something. Quoting Robin Wall Kremmer, the author of Braiding Sweetgrass: “You don’t show your love and care by putting everything you love behind a fence. You have to be involved. You have to contribute to the well-being of the world.”
Slowing down, watching, listening, and reconsidering our default behaviors are more difficult but will likely feel right and allow Earth to thrive and support itself, our kids, and us as we grow on it. Who knows? Maybe if Earth has fewer tantrums, so will the kids on Earth.