Take 20,000 Deep Breaths

Photo Credit: AFP


Our lungs are extraordinary. Unconsciously, we go through our lives inhaling oxygen, exhaling carbon, in and out, the miracle of respiration. We breathe about 20,000 times, every single day.

But our lungs are also fragile. Our evolution has provided us with a system that is easily overwhelmed. For all of the incredible mental capacities that humans have developed – our self-awareness, our rational thought – we still remain a victim to that simple faculty.

Inhale, and exhale.

When the sun rises on a sky that has become too obscured with pollutants for us to breathe, what will the consequences be?

When we lose our ability to breathe deeply, we will no longer be human. We will no longer be free.

Take a deep breath.

Today, the air we breathe is poisonous enough to cause the deaths of 6.5 million people every year.

I first heard this statistic listening to Al Gore give one of his famous presentations on climate change, but couldn’t quite grasp it. That number seemed too huge, too incomprehensible.

If 6.5 million people die from air pollution in one year, how many die from air pollution in one day?

Almost 20,000.

One life for every breath we take today.

Take a deep breath. Remember that you are breathing easier today than your descendants will tomorrow.

When they inherit your lungs, will they also inherit the weight of our culture’s collective negligence?

Take a deep breath.

I took a CPR course when I was 13. When looking for signs of life, the first thing we are trained to do is look for signs of breathing.

This is what we are fighting for. That which, at its wildest and most primal level, is the signifying factor that we are alive.

Today, take 20,000 deep breaths. And remember what that means.

And fight for this. Fight because you know that you are still alive.

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