Killing the Planet is Against Our Religion

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Hasn’t the weather been just lovely lately? Mostly clear skies, a little humid, but just the right temperature. Beautiful. 

It is hard, when the natural world around us is so pleasing, so enjoyable, to believe, to fully take in the predictions of eminent climate collapse. Yet, we can’t escape being aware of—some of us being affected by—the already catastrophic consequences caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The pleasure we may feel on a lovely day is likely tempered by the knowledge that too much heat, fires, too much water in some places and drought in others, means the climate apocalypse is already upon us. All the misery climate change is bringing for so many living beings and places once lovely on this planet is a hard reality to deal with, to take in.

How do we deal with the dueling realities of pleasure and suffering? How do we treasure the earthly beauty of the present, while at the same time take on more and more responsibility for the suffering that climate change is causing?

The last thing we as UU people of faith do is deny it is happening. 

I think most of us fully acknowledge that the earth is warming and that the climate is rapidly changing, and that it can’t be ignored.

And I think most UUs have taken on some responsibility to do what we can to curtail the effects. Just look around at most UU parking lots on Sunday mornings and you’ll find a number electric or hybrid vehicles. We insist, here at UUCSH, that whoever we hire to clean our building use green products. Many of us are vegetarian, or vegan. We went green a long time ago.

We care about what is happening and want to make it stop.

The call to worship this morning asked us to heed the call of “a wounded world,” to respond with courage and love.

It requires courage just to acknowledge climate change, does it not?

Supporting green alternatives; using less plastic and whatever else that requires less use of fossil fuels to produce. We can walk. We can ride bikes. It has all become quite normal to choose green products, to buy sustainable foods. 

My always-courageous wife traveled to DC last week to join others to make a fuss at the White House to remind our president to keep his promises regarding climate change measures. She and other faith leaders put themselves in positions to be arrested alongside indigenous folks to make a point of solidarity. While she was there, I was at the grocery store with my reusable bags. And, last week I finally found the very-easy-to-complete forms on the Citizens’ Climate Lobby website and sent messages to my senators and representative urging them to include a carbon tax in the reconciliation bill. 

I’m not sure the small, everyday things I do require courage, just good intention and follow-through.

Intention and follow-through are important but so is being courageous. Perhaps it does take courage to intentionally bring children into this world, or to adopt and raise young people when we don’t know for sure what their future will bring. It takes courage to not be depressed when some predict certain doom.

I have been reading about why so many are quitting their jobs, or just not returning to the jobs they may have had in pre-pandemic times. For some of those people, not returning is about courage. Some are choosing to take the risk of less income in order to live into the present moment with their children, with their loved ones. They are choosing not to take less than a living wage for the toil required in service jobs, especially the ones that require face-to-face interaction.

For the so-called “essential” workers to voluntarily give up their less-than-adequate income takes a kind of courage which with I am not familiar, choosing family over the certainty of economic (in)security.  

Just like the courage it must take to leave all that you know and travel on foot with little children to a place that might offer a chance for a better life.

There are heroes everywhere who have courage. We should be courageous enough to listen to them, to share what we have. 

You have to love the ingenuity of the Namibian women who took the indestructible and always-present trash of plastic bags and made them into something useful and beautiful. It takes courage and compassion (love) to have faith in the human ability to survive in the face of incredible odds. 

I pray that we all will feel called to this wounded world in a way that doesn’t mean we proclaim a doomsday message, or shame each other into doing what we deem is the right thing to do. Rather, I hope we take the pleasure we feel in the glories of this earth, its beauty, the amazing variety of people and beings that ride round and round on this planet with us, and let LOVE dictate what we can build together; let love rule our present and our future.

We have the chance now to move through this scary, chaotic, turbulent period into one that is less about accumulating more and more things, and more about moving towards living a life of courage and compassion. Of doing as our forebears did and making a difference in the lives of people far beyond our little circles.

Killing the planet is against our religion.

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