Commit2Respond: Week 4 Reflection
Monday, April 20, 2015
From March 22 - April 22, the UUMA Staff is joining with UUs across the country for Climate Justice Month, sponsored by Commit2Respond. Each week, one of our staff members will post their reflections on one of the suggested practices from the week. Intersted in joining us for Climate Justice Month? Click here for more information.
Week Three comes from Endowment Director, Sarah Moldenhauer Salazar
It’s week four of Commit2Respond, described by the Commit2Respond team as “a time to (re)commit to building a different way of being, with each other and with Mother Earth. It is time to (re)commit to co-creating the Beloved Community,…[a time to] build communities where people share equally in both burdens and benefits,…[a time to] value all lives, and relate to each other, as Martin Buber taught us, as ‘I and Thou.’”
Why? Why do this? I don’t believe we can “save” ourselves from the destruction we have brought on ourselves and the earth. It’s too late. Seeing Inconvenient Truth in 2006 led me to explore the body of research on climate change, which led me into a dark night of the soul. For years I felt I was walking through the tilting decks of the Titanic feeling hopeless, ministering with those of great privilege enjoying the music and drinking champagne, ministering with those on the lower decks who are drowning. Utter madness!
Ultimately I found balance and peace in my Eastern theology. I (re)commit to building a different way every day because I believe that the purpose of life is for awaken to the Oneness of all. The purpose of the Whole Thing is the movement of energy towards (I’ve found no better word than) Love. My commitment is to this process unfolding, whatever the circumstances we humans have created for ourselves, however long or short we exist on this planet. So, no, we may not “save” ourselves or our planet as we know it. Irrespective, the point of being IS to create the Beloved Community, to value all lives, to awaken to the “I and Thou” of all beings. It always has been and it always will be.
So what does that mean in this time of ecological disaster? For this I turn to the words of Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker. In her essay, “After the Apocalypse,” she asks liberal religious people to consider that we stop proclaiming that “the promised land is right around the corner” and wake up to the reality that the apocalypse has already happened. She writes, “We are living in a post-slavery, post-Holocaust, post-Vietnam, post-Hiroshima world. We are living in the aftermath of collective violence that has been severe, massive, and traumatic. The scars from slavery, genocide, and meaningless war mark our bodies. We are living in the midst of rain forest burning, the rapid death of species, the growing pollution of the air and water, and new mutations of racism and violence.” Yes, there is more suffering coming; the consequences of what we have wrought are not over. But consider, for a moment, that we are living in the aftermath of the apocalypse, with its accompanying devastation. How do we minister to a world of people who are enduring the ravages of such devastation?
After the bombs have exploded, the guns have fired, the tsunami has struck, the towers have fallen, the earth has cracked open, the fires of the hell we have caused have ravage our many lands, this is how we minister: we hold people who are shaking with trauma, we listen as people tell their stories again and again, we bind wounds, we start cleaning up the wreckage, and we distribute blankets, food, and the basic things people need to live. We sing songs and tell stories of grief, survival, kindness, and hope. We lead rituals to remember and honor all we have lost and to remind ourselves that we are still alive and that there is still much good we can do. We are gentle with ourselves and each other, because we are all suffering from post-apocalyptic stress disorder to one degree or another. We are careful with the limited resources we have left, because they are so precious in a world where so much has been destroyed. We demand equitable distribution of these resources. We fiercely protect those who are most vulnerable. We celebrate the beauty and resilience and love that persist despite all the carnage. We look for wisdom and leadership from those who know the most about surviving against all odds. We build diverse and wide-spread coalitions to develop new sustainable, equitable, compassion-filled ways of being together. As people of faith, as first responders again and again, this is what we must do, this is what we are called to do, come what may.
Yours in faith and in the thick of it,