We know that we are supposed to do what is good for the environment. We know that the time we live in requires a great change in what we consider to be normal lives. We have inherited living habits and basic expectations about what we should have in our lives from the grand developments of the last one or two hundred years.
These developments made our lives much easier and more comfortable (in some respects) but they also pulled from the Earth and pulled more than we could initially see. We now see that we have pulled more, and polluted more, than we should have and that our great systems need to innovate further if we are going to continue on in anything similar to the world we live in now.
In the meantime, we know that we have to change. Our systems have to change, and in order for that to happen we need to change.
So far, there is not much new in what you are reading. However, there are many options in how we view this demand to change.
1) We can take the view, that many of us here today are taking, that we have to change in order to ‘save the world’ (the world as we know it).
2) We can take the view that we need to change because it is our personal responsibility to not live beyond our means and since we are currently living far beyond our means we need to change.
3) We can take the view that this life of ours is more than a physical experience, more than a brief human lifetime, and this challenge is a challenge we are facing for the purpose of spiritual development. It is this option I am going to elaborate on.
Care & Environmental Responsibility: A Call to Personal Growth
I once saw a sticker on the back of a car that read something like this: “Our view of the world is the confession of our soul.”
Many of us walk through this world complaining about one thing or another that is wrong in our life. Going with the phrase above, this is a confession of our own soul — if we primarily see what is negative with the world and with our life it is likely that we are primarily filled with such negativity.
The environmental movement is about a realization that the outer, physical world has some problems, that we need to address these problems. But how we take in these problems is a different story. The initial realization that there are such problems parallels with a personal realization that we have deep issues within our hearts and bad habits that have developed over time.
A key here is being aware of the fact that realizing a problem exists is the first step to overcoming the problem.
Just because we have a problem doesn’t mean it has to bring us down.
We may get overwhelmed with this issue of environmental crisis, just as we may get overwhelmed with deep personal issues we discover within ourselves on our way to a better life, and we may think everything looks worse because of our new-found, deep-seeded problems. However, it is not as though the issues were not there before we saw them, or that they wouldn’t be there anymore if we ignored them. The ability to see the issues is a benefit, but we cannot let negativity bring us down or it stunts the whole development that was moving along when we finally realized that there were problems to address.
My proposition: if you are now in the fold who sees the problems of the world (and within ourselves) more clearly than in the past, if you are now able to confess what our hearts are never able to deny — if we have problems within ourselves and in the deepest corners of our hearts, we will always see problems in the world around us — see this whole process as a process of true, personal growth; inner growth.
If we let all the problems we see bring darkness into our lives, we are defeating the purpose of our new-found awareness.
We must use our new awareness to grow.
Connecting this all back to the outer environmental movement and environmental change, here is another proposition:
We have learned to care more through the environmental movement. This care is a positive thing, but it should not be mixed up with worry and other negative emotions. Perhaps, care is what we are learning, but care also combined with faith and love rather than fear and anger.
Care we have learned, a bit. But, let us combine that with faith and love if we are to continue growing, inside our hearts and in the world outside, the environment we live in.