We Are The Earth!

October 30th, 2013 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on We Are The Earth!

climateChangeImageThis week marks the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy – the storm that devastated the New York and New Jersey shores last year.

This anniversary should remind us that climate change is going to have consequences that are pretty challenging and that we can’t even begin to imagine if we don’t begin to take it more seriously. And if we solely look to the powers-to-be in hope that things will get better, then we are bound for disappointment. We must feel empowered as individuals that even by changing our perspective or our approach, we can change how things are, and how things will be. Climate Change is the moral issue of our time and it must be seen in that light. And each of us can make a difference.

Ask yourself this question – why do people who raise the issue of climate change do it? What is it that they gain? What’s their agenda? People focused on climate change are not just screaming at the rain. It really comes down to one word – caring. It’s the only reason to be concerned about climate change. There are many like me, nearly 60 years old, who will probably not be too terribly affected (and maybe not even too inconvenienced) by climate change in our lifetime. I’ll probably squeak by with little more than a “climate change scratch”. But, it can’t be about what’s in it for me – that can’t be the attitude or we’ll never move forward with solving this issue. This planet is a pretty cool place to live (no pun intended) and our greatest responsibility is to keep it that way for future generations. In the end, our response to climate change will show us what kind of people we are; it’s about the soul of our generation. Do we care? Can we expand our definition of community to include generations to come? These are serious questions and how we choose to answer them with our actions will determine what future generations will experience on this place we call home.

I’m actually betting on us. I think we do care. I’d recommend taking a page from the Native Americans. They believed that every act should be weighed against how it will impact the next 7 generations. Now that’s caring… and that would go a long way towards responding to the issue of climate change.

This week, as the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy is acknowledged, let each of us individually commit to doing our part… and even more. I leave you with the beautiful, profound, and inspiring words of Thich Nhat Hanh – a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk – with an excerpt from his book, “Love Letter to the Earth:”

At this very moment, the Earth is above you, below you, all around you, and even inside you. The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything around us comes from the Earth. Everything outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth. We often forget that the planet we are living on has given us all the elements that make up our bodies. The water in our flesh, our bones, and all the microscopic cells inside our bodies all come from the Earth and are part of the Earth. The Earth is not just the environment we live in. We are the Earth and we always carry her within us. 

Realizing this, we can see that the Earth is truly alive. We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. Knowing this we can begin to transform our relationship to the Earth. We can begin to walk differently and care for her differently. We will fall completely in love with the Earth. When we are in love with someone or something, there is no separation between ourselves and the person or thing that we love. We do whatever we can for them and this brings us great joy and nourishment. That is the relationship each of us can have with the Earth. That is the relationship each of us must have with the Earth if the Earth is to survive, and if we are to survive as well. 

If we think about the Earth as just the environment around us, we experience ourselves, and the Earth as separate entities. We may see the planet only in terms of what it can do for us. We need to recognize that the planet and the people on it are ultimately one in the same.