Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Future of the Planet

"The Web of Life"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

Last week after Hurricane Harvey hit the coast of Texas, scientists and government officials could hardly come up with the words to describe the catastrophic devastation the hurricane caused, many calling it “the worst one ever.” Now “Irma,” another catastrophic mega-hurricane, is brewing in the ocean, threatening to hit the coast of Florida, “the worst one ever” recorded in the Atlantic.

I just came across an article written by a group of environmental scientists suggesting that it’s ludicrous to think that this string of super-hurricanes has not been affected by "climate change influenced by human intervention that has contributed to higher than ever sea-surface temperatures,” fueling super-hurricanes like “Harvey” and now “Irma.”  

I am reminded of something American Buddhist author and ecologist, Susan Murphy, once said:

The earth sustains our life with its magical weave of infinite relationship,
mutual dependency between all life forms and the elements that sustain them,
water, air, soil, minerals, sunlight.
Some call this peerless magic ‘ecology,’ or ‘nature.’
I think of it as the grace that animates creation

Failing to trust and protect this perpetually self-renewing gift,
attempting instead to exploit it as bounty earmarked for our exclusive use,
we are tearing apart the web of life.

“Worst-ever” hurricanes in the Atlantic and "higher than ever" summer heat in places like California didn’t happen by accident but have been driven by uncontrolled human greed. In order to make a “ton of money” human beings have poisoned the air and polluted the oceans and now we are all suffering from it. The earth has been ravaged and depleted because we have “earmarked the gift of nature for our exclusive use and exploited it as our bounty.”

As I see it, the problem here is essentially a spiritual problem. Driven by our own “ego-driven” need for gratification, contemporary society has failed to realize our place in the natural world. We have lost sight of the fact that nature doesn’t belong to us; rather, we belong to nature. We “are” the one web of life, everything and everyone is dynamically interdependent, and so if the web is torn apart, we are are all torn apart and life cannot be sustained.

Buddhist monk and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, puts it this way:

When you look around you
what you see is not your environment, it is you.
You are the earth,  and when you see this,
you will be moved to treat the earth the same way
as you would treat yourself.
The future of the planet depends on it.

Before that “worst-ever” hurricane hit Texas, my guess is that a whole bunch of people living there may have thought that environmental and ecological concerns were nothing more than items on a liberal political agenda. My hope is that now, having felt the catastrophic effects of that mega-hurricane, some may have changed their mind. Now more than ever, each and every one of us is being called to raise our consciousness about how we care for “Mother Earth.” The future of the planet, the future of humankind, depends on it.

Pope Francis once said:

If we destroy creation,
creation will destroy us.

I say “Amen” to that!

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