I don’t know about you, but I needed a bit of inspiration today. Regardless of the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, there is much evidence that our country has many people who condone and take part in activities that perpetuate hatred – and I woke up this morning feeling defeated by the sheer magnitude of those numbers. Like many, I have fleetingly considered moving somewhere else – though I’m quite sure the places I would go are not amenable to accepting a bunch of disgruntled Americans at the moment.
So, I searched through my Wakelet collection of inspiration in order to take my mind off current events. I ran across a short video I had saved from Twitter, shared by @MikeHudema, about a man who grew his own forest by planting one tree every day for over 37 years. While I was hunting for sources and a YouTube link, I found several more videos about this remarkable man, Jadav Payeng. This one is a good summary (only a minute long) of the story – how Payeng transformed a desolate, eroding piece of a river island into a lush forest that is now home to multiple elephants, tigers, and other animals.
But then I found a longer, award-winning video by William D McMaster, Forest Man, and I realized that I was meant to watch it. Today. At this moment. I was meant to be reminded by Jadav Payeng that we cannot despair, and we cannot abandon what seems to be an overwhelming task. We need to take a breath and do what we can, and even though it appears that we are doing very little, those tiny achievements will grow and multiply.
As Payeng’s forest has grown to be over twice the size of New York’s Central Park, he has had to defend it from those who want to cut it down for economic gain. “There are no monsters in nature except for humans,” he says. He knows what it’s like to protect something valuable from people who care only about their own benefits.
The narrator of Forest Man says, “Sometimes I wonder what 10, 100, or 1000 Payengs could do.”
Payeng inspires me to stand my ground and keep on doing what little I can, each day, to combat the monsters.
(My friend, the awesome Joelle Trayers, just told me that there is a children’s book, The Boy Who Grew A Forest, about this amazing story! Be sure to share it with your students along with the video!)
I will be adding Forest Man to my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board, as well as my Inspirational Videos for Teachers. For a similar theme of an ordinary man doing ordinary things making a difference, I also recommend the animated video, King of the Island.