If you have watched The Lorax, you have heard these words before:
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees.”
What does it mean to speak for the trees?
Of course, you’ve heard about the environmental issues. You know trees are being cut down, you’ve seen the trash on the streets, you’ve sat next to someone on a bus who has carelessly tossed their garbage out the window, you’ve seen the pollution and all…
But what have we done about it?
It begins with me, yes, I already know that. I pick up garbage that I see someone throw. I discourage people travelling with me from throwing trash out the window by sitting there myself or taking their trash and disposing of it correctly.
But now that I’ve started, what’s next?
And it irks me no end that my river is black.
It was cleaned once before by one of the better politicians in the country. John Michuki died four years ago, and so did his efforts. The river that had started recovering from the muck and grime is now once again black.
When it rains, the river foams and you can see the plastic bags floating down it – garbage washed away with the flow.
It breaks my heart.
And it’s making me wonder what I can do. If Doctor Who has taught me anything, it’s that, ordinary as I may be, I have the power to change the world. So, here I am, speaking for the trees, and my river, the Nairobi River.
I will probably have to go beyond just this post, but I am going to do something about it. The wheels in my head are already turning. I am tired of making noise about it. Now it’s time to do something about it – and that thought really scares me.
But as the Lorax said:
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better – it’s not.
I suppose that this is one of those times that my new year’s resolutions has to come to the fore. I promised myself that I would have more courage. This is as big and scary as it gets. I have to speak out.
Then I have to do something about it.
The thing about talking and talking without doing anything is that you get very good at the previous without ever being good at the latter.
We had another environmental figure once, who spoke for the trees. Wangari Mathai is still my hero, even though she’s gone. It was a hard run for her. It will probably be a hard run for me since getting people to care is really, really hard. But she did it anyway. And that’s another Doctor Who lesson – doing the right thing anyway even though it’s hard or difficult or scary. (Forgive all the Who references, it’s a really good show!)
So here it is.
My name is Rebecca.
I speak for the trees.
And so should you.