Thursday, 1 August 2013

Mourning for the Earth

To confront climate change, we may need to first deal with our grief.


Photo Credit: Erik Mark Sandberg (Sojouners)

WHY IS IT so hard for people to respond effectively to the reality of climate change?
Changing people’s minds—with facts, tables, and predictions—has proven extremely difficult. Even showing people the miraculous beauty of the planet alongside the predicted losses is not working. Guilt, anxiety, and anger can be motivating forces, but they have debilitating side effects: They are all soul-destroying.
So I wonder about our hearts. Have we ignored our emotional and spiritual connections to the planet? Could the noise swirling around climate change—science, politics, media blitzes, as well as the weather disasters themselves—drown out the voice of a loss so profound that it rests unnamed in our souls? Could our breaking hearts be part of the reason we are immobilized?

These are the questions Katharine M Preston speaks to in her Sojourners article "Mourning for the Earth" (August 2013).  She invites people of faith to understand that grief is a process, not a state of being, and that the well-known stages of grieving (made familiar by E. Kuebler-Ross) can equip us to move through the profound losses related to climate change.

Preston writes that many turn to faith communities in moments of grief.  She asks:  Could churches help us work through our grief so we can embrace the radical changes that must be made.

The article concludes with this quote from the Talmud (attributed):   Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work. But neither are you free to abandon it.

You can read the entire article here.

-submitted by Gareth

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