It is often said that from a tiny acorn, a mighty oak can grow.
But on a calm summer night in 1975, a mighty large oak toppled in my backyard. It was an unusual occurrence, because the evening was calm, with not even the slightest hint of a breeze in the air, even looking to the tops of the remaining trees, there was no motion.
It was a large red oak tree, probably 40 to 50 feet tall. Its leaves were intact and appeared healthy.
However, a few inches up from where the trunk and its roots sunk beneath the earth was clear evidence of years of decay and rot. The tree had gotten to the point where it could no longer stand, and on this calm summer evening it fell.
The next days were spent cutting the tree into manageable pieces with a chainsaw, and after hours and hours of hard work, we were left with only the few remaining feet of a very large, very heavy trunk.
Too much for our rented chainsaw, we decided to roll the huge log into the woods adjoining our yard, and it was during this process that I discovered the remains of a grey squirrel flattened firmly between the trunk and the earth.
I began to wonder if this tiny squirrel could have been the trigger that brought this mighty tree down, and as the years have gone on, I have concluded that it did.
The squirrel wasn’t the cause of years of decay. It wasn’t intent on toppling the tree. Its purpose was to bound from one place to the next to find its shelter; to find safety and rest and comfort.
But on this particular evening, the world changed in an instant. And then it ended suddenly and without fanfare.
As the trunk gave way and the tree began to tip, the squirrel felt the sudden danger and sought the safety and security inherent through its most primal instinct.
If you’ve ever approached a grey squirrel in the wild, you know that they will climb a tree and hide from you by moving to the side of the tree away from you – from the danger.
This squirrel was doing just that when it perished. And though it moved to an area of the tree where it could see no branches swaying, nor violent force, it could not rationalize the danger was still present. It did what it thought was the right thing to do based on its degree of intellect, comprehension and instinct.
And a few seconds later, it was unceremoniously crushed by the danger anyway.
So while a mighty oak may well grow from a tiny acorn, the lesson for me from this incident is this:
A simple, innocent squirrel, with no intention for mischief, can cause a mighty oak to fall, where decades of winds and storms have failed.
It’s easy for us to think that we can’t do damage to our planet because we’re too insignificant and unimportant. But I remember that calm, summer evening in 1975, and I know better.
Just closing my eyes and hanging on for dear life during these chaotic times for Man alerts me to the real danger that’s close at hand.
And I will not be content to move to the side of the tree where blindness comforts me into that false sense of security.
Our world is experiencing rot and decay. Many believe that man is the main cause, though equally as many believe that he is not.
Our world is in the middle stages of global climatic change. That tree has already toppled. Where we are when it hits the ground will determine whether we live or die.
Depend on electronics and you will perish. Depend on fossil fueled transportation and you will perish. Depend on a shelter which cannot be maintained using only natural resources and you will perish. Gather food from your own sources or you will perish.
Depend on the thoughts and feelings that make you comfortable and you will find peace in short order. The kind of peace you find, however, may not bring you ultimate comfort.
Peace on Earth can just as easily spring from conscious thought as from calamitous disaster, but how that peace is manifested makes all the difference.
Mars is a peaceful planet.