Dr. Gary Taylor states, “When the heart is changed, the man is changed. When the man is changed, his life is changed. When his life is changed, the world will change.” Lately, I have been concerned about the heart of man but not the surface or just the blood pumping part of the human heart. I am speaking of the soul/spirit of man. Living in the rural section of the county may help one to see more of what is happening around us or we may be able to witness up close the actual changes that are taking place in our environment. I am actually speaking of climate/environmental change.

I moved out of the mid-town section of Rome over 30 years ago, and was pleased with the atmosphere of being closer to natural habitat of the God’s Creation. The area in the county where I moved was filled with God’s beautiful creatures ... beavers, armadillos, deer, rabbits, pond turtles, wild turkeys, frogs, squirrels, foxes, spiders, lizards, snakes and crickets. I was greeted by many other animals, but the ones listed were most plentiful.

For most of the 30 years, the front and backyards would be covered with rabbits and frogs. The lawn was always filled with crickets.

One day as I was sitting in the den speaking to my son who lived in Rome, I felt this nice smooth feel of a thing crawling up the arm that was holding the phone, but it was on the underside, and I could not see what it was. I told my son to hold for a minute. I turned the arm over and there he was staring me in the face. He moved around on my arm so that I could see him clearer. I turned back to my son and said, “Oh, this is just a lizard on my arm.”

He exclaimed, “What?... Are you in the house?”

I answered him saying, “Yes, I am in the house, and me and this lizard are at peace.”

He was not pleased with my reaction and said “Oh, you have got to be kidding me. If that is a lizard you would be jumping, running and screaming.” He and I bantered back and forth about that and he finally said, “I do not believe you.”

I said, “Well, I tell you what, I will catch it and bring it to town in the morning and drop it off at your house.”

He said, “You do that,” and I did. When I arrived with the envelope the next day he had forgotten that my purpose was to make a delivery. I handed him the envelope and he opened it without thinking and out jumped the lizard on his arm and onto the floor. My son went one way and the lizard went in the opposite direction. After all the commotion, his wife was ready to grab the children and move out of the house. That day we talked about all of God’s creations and how each has a meaningful purpose for having been created by our Creator. I explained to them that I had made a commitment to the creatures in my surroundings to make peace with them so that we could co-exist. The oldest son had made peace with snakes and other animals but not lizards.

With all of the peaceful co-existing agreements and special consideration for their space that I made back then, today the area is almost creature-less.

For years my Grands would come out for the sole purpose of chasing lightening bugs, catching turtles and little hopping frogs. However, they never warmed up to catching snakes. Snakes were plentiful and felt welcome to come on the porch and crawl up on the chairs.

Today, I am saddened to realize that for over two years I have not seen one snake on the property. Why? Is it for the same reason that the rain forest is on fire and has been burning for weeks with no relief in sight? Is it for the same reason why parts of Miami and California are sliding into the ocean? Is it because of the same reason tornadoes are traveling through areas of this country that they have never traveled before? Is it for the same reason that we do not see icicles hanging from roof tops in parts of Georgia? Is it for the same reason I do not have to stop on Lyons Bridge Road to pick up a baby turtle to keep the next car from smashing it to death? Is it for the same reason that this area has not experienced a hard winter in many of years? Is it because it is too expensive to stop the pollution coming from factories and various manufacturing plants?

The question is not whether these things are happening. The question is how we deal with them and how we adapt.

Accepting the scientifically proven facts will help one deal with change effectively and be out in front of the change. We must not wait until it’s too late and have our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren wonder what happened when we are no longer around to explain.

People, let us get real and face the fact that Climate Change is real.

Willie Mae Samuel is a playwright and a director in Rome. She is the founder and director of American Connection for the Performing Arts Inc.

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