Do yourself a favor and look at the science of how incredibly and wonderfully balanced the Earth is – just perfect for sustaining life as we know it – from the tiniest microbe to large ecosystems like forests or the ocean. Life on Earth is both simultaneous resilient and fragile. Much like our hearts when we open them.
The balance, however, is off and we are in danger of changing life as we know it on Earth in devastating ways, and perhaps ending it as we know it for our species and many others in just a few generations. This SHOULD shake us awake, but sadly our desire for consumption and comfort and a misguided perception that we are somehow special and elected above all other life rather than stewards and caretakers, will be our downfall and the downfall for much of life on Earth.
Whether through our inequitable overuse of resources, or our precarious dance our weapons of mass destruction, we are in a dangerous place while having the knowledge to know better and to act better. We don’t have any excuses anymore – any professed innocence of our ignoring of facts and our persistence ideology of individualism will not save us from our own karma. We own it fully. And it would be one thing if it only affect our species and our generations – but to continue down this path knowing that it will adversely and horrifically affect future generations and a multitude of species is the height of hubris.
We need specific, aggressive and wholistic change in policies and regulations towards this prescient challenge, as it pertains to renewable energy and consumption. We need moral and ethical rethinking on our treatment of the planet and other species. And while world governments play a crucial role in immediate actions, to underscore, support and motivate these actions, we need an awakening of heart.
For me Buddhism has provided my awakening of the heart and a beneficial lens to view this issue through, but really the underscoring values and emphasis on Interdependence, Open-Heartedness, Empathy, Compassion, Courage, Selflessness, and Service are at the heart of any contemplative tradition, or any secular contemplative, awareness practice. Access to information, education, dialogue, and direct interaction with suffering can bring about an awakening and conviction of the heart. This is what happened to me when I became vegetarian nearly 15 years ago. I saw the suffering my consumption of meat was participating in and causing and I could participate no longer. So many want to avoid the seeing, to recognizing, so they can continue to enjoy the meat they eat. I could not any longer. There was no joy in knowing that what I was eating was brought forward to my plate through suffering and loss of life – a view that my life was more important than another life. Following that I became informed on the environmental benefit to a no meant diet and that further bolstered my practice of not eating meat. It moved my compassion beyond the life of the animal to a compassion for the whole Earth.
But this is just my example. Many others have had a similar awakening and conviction of heart regarding their use of plastics, or use of energy sourced in fossil fuels. The key here is that which awakens, moves, convicts our hearts, is that which will also motivate our deeply beneficial and (at this point) heroic actions that are in no doubt needed to save life as we know it on this Earth, a planet that has maintained a balance so that we could enjoy in this shared life. What better way is there to show our gratitude on this day and every day, than to make changes in our own lives that helps the Earth keep that balance for life maintained, for ours and future generations, for ours and a multitude of species?
Live in gratitude. Live in compassion. Live with integrity and responsibility.
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