Saturday, August 24, 2013

A New Earth, A False Hope (an excerpt)

In the last several months I have learned the truth about climate change, the truth that I had previously joined my fellow Christians in mocking.  I have had all manner of human-inflicted evils brought to my attention (religion is on the list).  The seriousness of our situation is painful.  It is intense.  It is discouraging.  It is frustrating, infuriating, bleak and hopeless.  Scientists are now saying that there is no likelihood of our civilization recovering from the last few decades of damage, even if we were all to cease the destructive activities tomorrow.  The Earth is heating up, thanks to us.  (The current cool spell is indicative of our screwed-up weather patterns due to overall heating.)  We are baking ourselves and our fellow creatures for the sake of a few comforts and conveniences.  Creature comforts, indeed.  The science reports fly in daily from every quarter.  The Earth will likely swing back around eventually (thousands or millions of years?), but how many of its current species will be around to see it?  

No, it’s not pretty.  No, there’s not much hope.  Maybe it makes more sense at this point to just let everyone have their false hope and to go about preaching God’s new Earth, but as for me and my house, we’d rather know the truth.  I hear it sets you free.  Maybe, just maybe, if we face the problem head-on instead of burying our heads in the sand we will discover that there is something we can do...

...But I cannot believe in God.  Most definitely not the god of the Bible.  I have seen the wizard behind the curtain.  I now truly believe that I am an ape descendent.  I don’t understand it all just yet, but I am learning. The facts point to evolution.  If this is the case then we have no dominion and our focus should be on being more responsible creatures.  We have the ability to reason and think abstractly and the responsibility to do so not only for our own benefit, but for that of the less intelligent species.  I really do have no more “right” to be here than the snapping turtle in the creek over there, or the cardinal singing in the tree next to me.  It would be one thing if we lived as they did, but we don’t.  We began “improving” upon the Earth for our own convenience and comfort and couldn’t stop.  Our priorities got mixed up.  We forgot where we came from.  And we have done this thing, this horrible thing to our planet.  So yeah, sometimes I look at wildlife now and whisper, “I’m sorry.  I’m so, so sorry.”  No, they don’t know.  They remain unaware of their fates.  And it makes it that much harder for me to swallow.

So, how should we then live?  Well, I’m a stubborn sort and refuse to give up hope.  I will continue to learn what I can about this universe and hope that mankind will continue to evolve, that we will find a way to undo the damage we have done.  I will take whatever steps I can to help and I will teach my children to do so, as well.  We will drive less, consume less, conserve more, recycle, live simply and continue learning and teaching and sharing.  I will teach my children to be aware of the fact that we share this planet with 7 billion other people and an estimated 8.7 million other species, that everything we do has a worldwide impact and that it is shameful to bury your head in the sand, be the sand some form of religion, sports, politics or whatever.  

But that is not all, oh no, that is not all.  I do not wish to shame my children and cause them to be fearful and discouraged.  My hope is to balance sobering reality with love and appreciation.  Not to counter the reality, as in Jukka’s case, but as an integral part of reality.  I am finding this balance in my own life.  I observe the universe around me and begin to understand my place in it.  I love beyond bounds and seek to express my appreciation for life by pouring myself back into it.  Yes, sometimes I am sad and find myself apologizing to frogs, but mostly I rejoice in the vibrant world around me.  If I did not find joy in it, if I did not appreciate it, why would I bother taking time to care for it?  There must be balance.  We must be drawn forward by love and beauty, not driven from behind by fear or anger.  

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