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Call it Father Earth


ANOTHER Earth Day has passed, and environmentalists everywhere have appropriately lamented the destruction of our beloved Mother.

Indeed, legend, religion and history are filled with memories of Mother Earth being raped, ravished, deflowered, defoliated and otherwise destroyed. Hardly a newscast passes without further evidence of despoliation. Sons of Earth destroy Mother Earth by violating her constantly.

It has been ever thus, at least as early as the Greeks. As Hesiod recorded it in "Theogony," Mother Earth was spontaneously generated out of Chaos. She in turn spontaneously created heaven. Heaven in turn visited Mother Earth nightly, and from that union all subsequent children and degradations began. That was, one might say, the original Big Bang Theory.

The metaphor and reality have it that violation of Mother Earth by her male children has been incessant, unrepentant and almost always diabolical. Even Milton tells us this in "Paradise Lost," where Mammon taught fallen angels in hell, and later, men on Earth, who

"Ransacked the center, and with impious hands

"Rifled the bowels of their mother Earth

"For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew

"Opened into the hill a spacious wound

"And digged out ribs of gold."

Surely such cannot continue. We are now more than 300 years beyond the Milton who reminded us anew of what Hesiod wrote. The continued rape of our old and withered Mother Earth is clearly unacceptable.


Give me the right word, says the philosopher, and the world can be saved. Very well. I propose to get nature back into balance. It is well known in philosophical and other learned circles that the world is often conceived as operating in 2000- to 3000-year cycles. Witness Zoroaster, Mani, Empedocles and Yeats. Obviously for 2,000 years Mother Earth has been destroyed, raped and pillaged. She has grown old, perhaps incapable of regeneration. Mother Earth, in short, has become a basket case.

The solution is simple. All that humankind needs to do is to come up with the right word to replace the metaphor that has existed since Greek times, and Earth shall be saved.

Henceforth, let us call our planet Father Earth. A ravaged planet, slovenly environs, devastation are his birthright. That is the new beginning. We shall enter the third and fourth millennia in harmony and peace. A new cycle will begin.

The word becomes law. Henceforth Female will violate Male. Son and daughter with renewed encouragement will rise up against Father Earth. Heaven will no longer repress Earth. Paternal slovenliness, rapine and ravishment will reign briefly; but gradually a rejuvenated Mother and her children will give up possessions to return to original Chaos.

No more jewels, no more homes, no more commerce, no more travel, no more art and icon, no more newspapers, no more television. Nature will gradually return to its pristine state. Father Earth will be excoriated rather than Mother Earth raped. Peace will return. In 2,000 years a world will return to its origins in a natural state of Chaos.

I have sent this proposal to President Clinton. A spokeswoman has informed me that it is being studied along with the value added tax -- and that an announcement will be out soon.

Ray Stevens, an English professor at Western Maryland, has written here on the etiquette of lawn mowing, Little League baseball and the state of academe.

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