When I was 18, my mother was dying of colon cancer. As her illness progressed, she worried about my future. I was the youngest of her children, the only one who had not yet found a career path. Since my older sister and brother were both enrolled at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, it was assumed I would follow them.

However, as I pondered the meaning of my mother’s illness and her immanent death, my attention turned to the state of the world. It was the 1960s: the time of the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and publication of Silent Spring. I knew I had to take a different path, one that committed me to the work of social justice, peace, and caring for the planet.

I see parallels now between my early life and the state of the world today. Mother Earth is experiencing a frightening loss of vitality, through arid fields, floods, rampant hunger and death. I pray that I and others will be aroused by these dire circumstances to make a full-throated commitment to save the planet and her people before it is too late.