During this COVID-19 pandemic, we are discovering the wisdom that we are all connected. We see that we catch disease as individuals who are part of families and as families who are part of churches, cities, states, and nations. Our entire globe can be changed because of our interconnectedness.
But other evils have spread and caused greater damage. While scientific and technological achievements have improved our human lives over the past 65 years, some have damaged our ecosystems – through our consumption, our use of natural resources, and our waste. The impact on the earth’s natural systems has resulted in rapid, damaging environmental changes in the biosphere that affect human life. We must address this destruction of the planet and humanity or it will continue to negatively affect future generations.
It is time to listen, reflect, pray, change, and get involved. It is important not just to react, but to develop a way of looking spiritually at what is happening in the world. Finding a peaceful place within ourselves is important while we live in a fast-paced and changing world. This can help us respond more clearly and with greater resilience. It is through this more balanced approach of love and compassion within that we can be inspired to respond fairly to the cries of the world.
Love, concern for creation and justice coincide. Since God is righteous, righteousness is the basis of all religions. Our Judeo-Christian tradition is one of many other traditions that believe that God made a covenant with our ancestors to love and care for everyone, including the earth. Through her, we have all agreed to love God and one another. “Remember, this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another” (1 John 3:11). If our actions in the environment harm God’s creation, especially people of color and people in powerless areas, then it is necessary to counter the unjust burden of environmental justice.
Together we are called to recognize that our choices have influenced our environment, and we must change those choices. Each of us can choose to make personal changes by recycling, reducing our consumption and waste, and using forms of energy other than petroleum.
However, large corporations and corporations that have a major impact on the climate must change. Throughout the Bible, God calls us to be advocates for justice, to be the voice of those who have no voice. “Listen to what the Lord says: ‘Rise up, defend my case from the mountains; Let the hills hear what you have to say. He showed you, oh mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord ask of you? To act righteously, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God lowering power and choice of advocacy, we can change the damage for the good of all. We can help our neighbors around the world by ensuring that their needs and rights are taken seriously through policies to undo the damage that is being done to our atmosphere.
We often shy away from getting involved. However, our political leaders represent us as members of civil society, families and the Church. Through advocacy, we inform them of our concerns, share our views, propose solutions, influence their thinking, and encourage them in their commitment to represent us all fairly by formulating equitable strategies to remedy the devastation. We can do this by letter or in person.
We cannot be passive bystanders when we believe in a God of righteousness. We need to be at the forefront and pay attention to what nature tells us. If we believe in a God who created the universe and wants us to take care of it, we have no choice.
Sister Marian Sturm, IWBS, MA, is a spiritual leader and retreat mediator, previously leader of faith education in the congregations and biology and theology teacher at high schools. She can be contacted at [email protected]