Wangari Maathai – Endlessly Restless

Wangari Maathai 1940-2011
Image by Global Crop Diversity Trust via Flickr

I embraced a philosophy that has given me strength in difficult times ever since.  Every experience has a lesson.  Every situation has a silver lining.  Each person needs to raise their consciousness to certain level so that they will not give up or succumb.  If your consciousness is at such a level, you are willing to do what you believe is the right thing – popular opinion notwithstanding.

(Unbowed, 165)

Wangari Maathai discovered her passion.  It shaped the rest of her life.  And while she had a grand vision, she made progress towards it in whatever way she could.  She persisted with her activities in the face of adversity, in the wake of poor decision-making, when progress seemed non-existent.

She learned a level of patience and perseverance that only those with a burning sense of purpose can attain.  At the risk of being a wee bit self-indulgent, it strikes me that she was endlessly restless.  And I hope that in some ways I can learn to emulate her in that.

Those of us who witness the degraded state of the environment and the suffering that comes with it cannot afford to be complacent.  We continue to be restless.  If we really carry the burden, we are driven to action.  We cannot tire or give up.  We owe it to the present and future generations of all species to rise up and walk!

(Unbowed, 295)

What I have learned over the years is that we must be patient, persistent, and committed.  When we are planting trees sometimes people will say to me, “I don’t want to plant this tree, because it will not grow fast enough.”  I have to keep reminding them that the trees they are cutting today were not planted by them, but by those who came before.  So they must plant the trees that will benefit communities in the future.  I remind them that like a seedling, with sun, good soil, and abundant rain, the roots of our future will bury themselves in the ground and a canopy of hope will reach into the sky.

(Unbowed, 289)

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