World Soil Day: a call to humility and kissing the ground
Catalonia2 December 2020
December 5 is the day that the FAO dedicates to the soil, this thin and delicate layer where the lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere concur and cooperate; this cover that supports the vast majority of terrestrial life and, therefore, also ours; this living miracle, home to countless organisms (fungi, worms, microbes, bacteria, enzymes, etc.) that do the admirable task of fixing and combining nutrients, thus ensuring their vitality.
From the Latin word humus (earth), which today designates the top layer of soil, comes “humility” (and probably also “man”). From Silene we believe, then, that this is a suitable day to recognize and thank – very humbly – on the ground all the gifts that, with so much diligence and generosity, he brings us; a day to remember that, as is the case with other elements of Mother Earth, soil is degraded and destroyed (pollution, overexploitation, urbanization, etc.) at an unsustainable rate in many parts of the world (according to the FAO, every year about 12 million hectares of land are damaged, affecting more than 1,500 million people); one day, then, also to reflect on the immoderation and irrationality of certain human activities, to regain the necessary modesty, in short, to “touch the ground.”
Nowadays, when deserts already cover a third of the earth’s surface and continue to increase in extent, we are pleased to be reminded that the soil has a wonderful capacity for regeneration, as set out in the inspiring documentary Kiss the ground. We also invite you to read the Declaration on soil made by philosophers Sigmar Groeneveld, Lee Hoinacki and Ivan Illich in Hebenshausen, Germany, in 1990.