Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.


Reflections of the ministers and senior staff.
4 minutes reading time (860 words)

Earth Day (We are One)

Earth Day (We are One)

After witnessing the hottest year on record, the impact of the current climate crisis is very present. The litany of impending challenges is long, from rising sea levels and deforestation to food insecurity and extreme weather events. How do we make sense of this? Climate change is a multifaceted issue encompassing various sciences, politics, economics, history, and spirituality. Environmental racism and justice are intertwined within all of it. The climate crisis presents a global challenge, posing significant obstacles to vulnerable communities worldwide. It disproportionately affects low-income countries and communities, indigenous populations, and other marginalized groups.

On the surface, the problem seems to be climate change and its impacts. But, this may be symptomatic of a deeper issue. Our relationship with the Earth is fundamentally out of balance. In his book Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, Thich Nhat Hanh writes:

"When you wake up and see that the Earth is not just the environment, the Earth is us, you touch the nature of interbeing. At that moment you can have real communication with the Earth…We have to wake up together. And if we wake up together, then we have a chance. Our way of living our life and planning our future has led us into this situation. And now, we need to look deeply to find a way out, not only as individuals but as a collective, a species."

The way out he offers is a thoughtful process of engaging with mindfulness practice as part of social activism to restore our relationship with the Earth and each other. Mindfulness as action guides our choices, deepens our understanding, and opens new possibilities for creating a more sustainable future.

When faced with intractable nature of these environmental justice/climate crisis issues, how do we deepen our understanding of justice? What do we do with despair about the planetary future?

Despair can lead to feeling like there’s nothing we can do. In an odd way it presupposes that we know what will happen. But we don’t know, because the future depends on what we do (or don’t do) right now. There is a lot we can do, and must do.

Let’s find ways to work together, communicate with compassion, and explore workable solutions, small and large.

Let’s reimagine a sustainable future, a relationship with the Earth that is in balance, a world that values justice and equity, and a future guided by compassion and hope.

This brings us to Earth Day, which came into being as different groups that had been fighting ecological problems individually (like oil spills, polluting factories, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife), all came together on Earth Day in 1970 around shared common values. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of other first-of-their-kind environmental laws, including the National Environmental Education Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and the Clean Air Act. Two years later congress passed the Clean Water Act.

Earth Day is the largest secular day of protest in the world. In 2020, over 1 billion people worldwide participated in Earth Day actions.
People celebrate Earth Day to help protect the planet and create a more sustainable future. By taking part in activities like picking up litter, recycling, planting trees, conserving water and energy, engaging in environmental education and earth justice advocacy, as well as practicing other lifestyle choices, it is possible to make a difference.

The climate crisis may not be solvable solely by individual choices like recycling alone. However, in taking part in collective actions on this day, we become part of larger solutions that recognize the importance of inidivual choices and actions while simultaneously holding large actors, such as the fossil fuel industry, truly accountable for the decades of harm they have enacted.

The journey of finding, and offering, our unique contribution to addressing the climate crisis, helps us to discover new strengths, open to a wider network of allies, and experience a deepening of our aliveness. When our responses are guided by the intention to act for the healing of our world, the mess we’re in not only becomes easier to face, but our lives also become more meaningful and satisfying.

When we practice mindful living, listen deeply to all that is, and awaken to the understanding that we are part of the Earth, and the Earth is part of us, addressing climate change becomes grounded in a spiritual knowing of the inherent oneness of creation.

Then, the questions we ask, the actions we take, will emerge from a perspective of connection and compassion. This approach is fundamentally different than if we see the Earth, and each other, as separate. This shift is one step forward in helping to heal the planet.

Every act of kindness matters, even if invisible, so do acts of mindful living, acts of compassion, acts of justice, and acts of care for the Earth. Small changes can add up to large ones, transforming our relationships and communities and helping us build a more just and joyful world.

May it be so.


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