As within, so without: Soil and our mental well-being

During my lunch shift yesterday, I came across a banner saying “Save soil” in Little India.

This message speaks to me because I have been mulling over the subject on the environment.

Soil – a much-taken-for-granted entity that we have grown up with – is becoming rare, as Singapore becomes increasingly urbanised and concretised.

After gaining independence, Singapore was planned to be transformed “from mudflats to metropolis”.

Perhaps the need to survive in the capitalistic system might have caused its proponents to push for “economic development at all costs”…

even the costs of negative impacts on the climate, biodiversity, ecological connectivity, human well-being, and so on.

Just last Saturday, I attended a seminar on the mental well-being of our youths, organised by Red Dot United, between my lunch and dinner shifts.

A study shows that about 1 in 3 young people in Singapore has mental health symptoms.

One of the panel speakers, Elijah Tay, aptly summed up the different kinds of stress experienced by young people: studies stress, work stress, minority stress, and social stress (as a result of social injustice and climate crisis).

Incidentally, studies show hotter weather caused by human-induced climate change has adverse effects on mental health, such as causing aggression and anxiety, resulting in higher incidences of crimes and suicides.

I wonder how much the cases of crimes and suicides correlates with the mental health crisis experienced by our youths.

Research has found that for every 1C increase in monthly average temperature, mental health-related deaths increase by 2.2%. Heat waves also impact cognitive ability, increasing aggressive behaviour and violent crime rates. The best thing we can do to help ourselves and future generations is to act on climate change, say experts.” (World Economic Forum, 14 July 2022)

Given the complex nature of mental health issues, could we also address the issue of soil loss, which is related to a loss of forests and organic soil-based farms?

Science tells us that fat in soil bacteria can alleviate stress, hence could our youths lack exposure to wild green spaces nowadays?

In biblical times, a renowned teacher once taught about the four types of soil in the human heart: wayside, rocky, thorny and good ground.

Has the soil in our hearts become so hardened (or desensitised) or distracted to receive the seeds of grace that we become alienated from ourselves and Nature?

Could the inner condition of our humanity be manifesting as the outer condition of the environmental destruction around us?

Perhaps to resolve the stress in our society, we need to go within and allow the seeds of grace to grow and bear fruit in the good soil of our hearts.

On this National Day, may we remember to rely on Nature’s grace instead of our self-efforts or self-righteousness.

I hope we will restore our ancient soils and forests too for the sake of our well-being.

The densely growing trees in Tengah forest can cool the urban heat island effect more effectively and extensively than small parks and gardens.

Why we need to conserve our forests instead of destroying them in the name of unsustainable development

Why do we need to conserve our forests instead of destroying them in the name of unsustainable development?

You may have read about the reasons in school textbooks.

You may have also read about them on news media and/or social media.

You have probably watched documentaries about them too.

But perhaps nothing is better than going into a forest and experience it for yourself.

After much consideration, I am convinced that no one can explain the reasons to you as well as Mother Nature herself.

That is, if you are willing to let Nature be your teacher.

I hope my short video will go in some small ways to give you a gentle nudge to experience the forest for yourself.

Feel free to share your learning points after watching the video.