Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Little Reality This Holiday Season

I promise when Bali is over I'll be less preachy. Until then...
[This isn't my photo, I just thought it was too good to pass up. Link to article here.]

O.k. I've had it. It is Christmas and with all his talk of being a "good Christian" (whatever that means) George W. Bush's administration seems to be prepared to send the entire world to hell in a handbasket! Seriously, how can you be opposed to a mandatory emissions reduction of 25-40 percent when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said it should be 80? If we can't reduce our emissions by this miniscule amount, well, be prepared for the end the world, and as we are causing it, I very much doubt Jesus will be appearing.

I'm not religious, but I am technically a PK (pastor's kid -- though I think this is really only a technicality since I was in college when my dad became a pastor) and I struggle greatly with Christianity in America. I've had these conversations with my dad (who agrees with me by the way, though he isn't as militant about it as I am) about how I can't understand how you can claim to be a good Christian and then go around destroying his carefully planned and executed creation. There is a serious disconnect there for me that I can not overlook and thus feel weird whenever I'm in church. Anyway, we are currently systematically killing the planet. I'm not over exaggerating here. A planet it took the creator an entire week to create (by the way, I believe in evolution, so I think it took millions of years to get us where we are now). Yet, Bush's cronies sit in Bali saying we can't afford to act! We, the richest country in the world, can't afford to act! I thought Christianity was all about charity and helping each other. I'm totally confused.

I personally believe you can't be a Christian (or Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, or Jew, etc.) without being an environmentalist. No matter what your belief is in regards to evolution or science, you cannot possibly read the bible (Buddha's teachings, Koran, Torah, etc.) without feeling a real responsibility to the planet and others on this planet. People will loose their homes. People won't have clean water or food. I'm not even talking about wildlife habitat loss, I'm talking human beings here. But we can't possibly go without multiple televisions, SUVs and using electricity willy-nilly. Sorry, we can't help you -- please just die already so we don't have to look at you.

I'm not only upset with the U.S. (though I feel I can complain more about the U.S. as a citizen). Now Ecuador is threatening to cut down rainforest unless they are paid to keep it! They say there is oil in them there woods and they want it. They want $350 million a year for ten years. This seems like blackmail, though part of me thinks they should be paid. We need this forest, and quality rainforests are dwindling, so according to supply and demand, that means we should pay a premium for it. [Note: I think I mentioned here before that old-growth forests were not included in Kyoto for carbon credits and many developing countries have said this practically requires them to cut down their forests and replant them--there was hope this would be addressed in Bali, but with the bickering over limits, they may not get to it.]

Luckily, we don't have to judge all of America on the Bush Administration's actions. Kerry went to Bali over the weekend and talked to the delegates, making sure they understood that some (many?) Americans really care about this issue. As proof he brought up the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which just voted for a mandatory emissions reduction. Many states and cities have adopted reduction policies.

So anyway, while you all are running around spouting "Peace on Earth," let's try to practice what we preach. In this time of overconsumption (and I am very much guilty of this at this time of year -- o.k. all year) please take a moment to make sure what you are purchasing is well made, will last, that the person actually wants it. If you are getting a new T.V., computer, or anything, recycle the old one or sell/give it to someone (you'd be surprised how many people could care less about the latest technology). Only buy fair trade products and make sure the parts are from sustainable sources. Unplug the Christmas lights during the day (in a perfect world you'd do this when you go to bed also -- hey, reduce your electricity bill and use LED lights!). Recycle your wrapping paper. Better yet, don't use wrapping paper (old calenders, newspapers, paper bags from the grocery store, these all work very well and can make a very pretty package). Apparently the consensus is that a real tree is more environmental -- so get a real tree and enjoy the smell of pine in your home. These suggestions may seem superficial, but as I've said before every little bit helps.


Rafael said...

I've often thought this issue of the environment was so simple that anyone could get it. If we destroy the planet we can't live! It doesn't get any simpler than that.

Unfortunately religion always provides an “out” for accountability on how we treat the earth and ultimately eachother. When people are preparing for what they believe is a better "hereafter" then species extinction, plant and tree destruction, global warming and pollution are of little consequence. According to most theistic religions God gave the earth to mankind to do with it what ever he wants and Man is said to be the crowning act of creation. Thus, the belief is that because God made mankind the boss of the earth there are really no consequences and in the event there may be consequences (like we are now seeing) it won’t matter because heaven is perfect and that’s where all the good people go.

Human history has had many sad moments where we have failed to live up to the glory of our higher consciousness. We preached the gospel of peace but spread it with the sword and persecution. We wrote the Declaration of Independence but kicked Native Americans off the land and enslaved blacks. We liberated Europe but dropped atomic bombs on Japan. And now we have created the richest country in history but those riches have made us environmentally poor and have disconnected us from nature and all living beings. We don’t understand nor do we care how important every organism, even the so called hostile ones, are to the very existence of everything.

When you think about it it’s really sad that human beings are only doing what ignorance leads every living thing to do and that is to survive at all costs, even at the risk of its own destruction. A virus will kill its host and risk its own destruction for survival and we do the same thing. Humans however, have the capability of understanding our connection to the world while virus’ do not and that makes our "sin" all the greater.

Survival for us, the human race, is the Pursuit of Happiness a.k.a. things, money, status, and prestige which are all fueled by insatiable greed. We are simply consuming ourselves and there is no room for unity, compassion and love when the fires of greed, hatred and delusion burn out of control. There is no action or thought that does not have a consequence and we just don’t get that.

I once believed that human beings are selfish by nature but I have since stopped believing that. If I were truly selfish I would be most concerned with the economic, health, happiness and safety of my neighbor and all people and living things in the world. Ultimately, this would be the best way to keep me and my family safe and secure. The disenfranchised, underrepresented those who are persecuted, homeless and uneducated do not make the world a safer place for me and my family so, it is in my best interest if all their basic needs are met. No, it’s not selfishness that afflicts human beings it’s something darker, something so sinister we would rather destroy all of life for the pursuit of objects and things instead of sacrifice those desires to make the world a better place for all.

Sorry for the long response but I feel your pain and frustration.

May you be well, happy and peaceful!

Jen K said...

Every little bit does help. Especially because people find it difficult to do the big things. SO wrapping presents in the funny pages make a hell of a lota sense and is fun, to boot. And if you're not unplugging your Christmas lights when you're not home and when you go to bed, then your begging for a fire.

It's the little things that can turn people on to the bigger things. I think I'm a good example of that.