Why We March: A Springtime Stroll for Science

By Phil Levin, lead scientist

It’s spring. White plum blossoms explode against the gloomy Seattle sky while my neighbor’s honey bees come to life and set about their daily gathering of nectar. As I stare out my window at the spring awakening, I am reminded of a story I heard years ago.*

A young girl went for a spring-time stroll with her father across a Ukrainian landscape. As they walked along a road adjacent to a wheat field, the father was struck by the beauty of the plants gently swaying in the breeze. They stopped and he proclaimed that in each stalk of wheat he saw the purpose and beauty of the entire universe. 


They continued walking, and the father was engrossed in the serenity of the moment. As they entered a forest, the father picked a leaf off a tree and absentmindedly tore it into small pieces as they continued their stroll. The girl was horrified. "How could you destroy the universe?”  

Awake and aware in support of science

This weekend, when we walk through the streets of Seattle, Washington, D.C., Austin and across the globe, we must maintain a wakeful march. We will raise our voices for the pursuit of knowledge, for sound science that yields solutions to safeguard our natural world — its ecosystems alongside the global community that depends on them.

Like the father in the story, despite our best intentions, it is easy to be inattentive, to sleepwalk. And as we slumber, we lose the ability to save our world and ourselves. By remaining awake and aware, we engage our intellect and emotions. We march because we are conscious, and we know that science provides the foundation to ensure our future. 

Our contingent at the 2017 March for Science in Seattle. Photo by Douglas King.

Our contingent at the 2017 March for Science in Seattle. Photo by Douglas King.

As we finish our walk and head home, whether we march forward with purpose or absentmindedly destroy nature, we are responsible for our own actions. Heeding the wisdom of the daughter, we must remember that the world is not for twisting and tearing to pieces. We march forward awake, aware, in awe of our world and respectfully curious of its nature.

* This story is based on my memory of the writings of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn.