On Earth Day this year, we were blessed with the reflections of Sr. Kathleen Deignan, an Eco-theologian from Iona College. She reviewed with us the fact that we are in the period of the sixth extinction of species on the earth. As we watch the daily news regarding the continuous break up of arctic ice flows and record-breaking heat waves across the world, or we notice in our backyard the lack of insects this year, we know these events are all related.
This fever that the earth is experiencing is very much like a fever we experience as humans. When a high intensity fever is moving through our body unchecked, it impacts critical systems that support our life. We have every reason to believe the same is taking place for our earth itself. We are not separate from the earth. We are part of it. Unfortunately, there is no massive penicillin shot we can give the earth.
This situation calls for us to adopt a “radical acceptance” of the situation. We know it is multi-dimensional and complex. These causes are interwoven into a web of interactions that are taking us to their ultimate conclusion. We know there is no one thing we can do to change it. This fever has been a long time in coming. It is the result of the laws of nature playing out the consequences of our not heeding them. We know that when humans are faced with serious threats or impending loss, they often adopt denial as their first defense against the foreboding threat. We see lots of examples of this in our culture. However, our human spirit in the past has faced serious situations and has found creative ways to reduce the pace, intensity and impact of change.
The reality of climate change is more than an unpleasant reality. It is a sign that the earth itself is in great pain. For hundreds of years, the dominant thought of humans was that we could own the earth and do with it as we please. We are now experiencing the consequences of that way of thinking and operating. There is real concern that we may have already passed the tipping point of no return. If that is so… then we still have work to do. The pain of this uncertainty and the negative impacts of our actions will continue. We still need to take action in managing this pain from moving into hopeless suffering.
From our human history we know that social connectedness has been a primary strategy for facing daunting challenges. We know our best chance in periods of uncertainty is to band together and generate both creative solutions and a force of social holding through this experience.
If the time is not now… WHEN?