Looking back on the warmest decade ever recorded – and wishes for a truly new year

Posted December 31st, 2009 in Blog, Featured 2 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
This week from Margaret Swedish:

We’re not posting much over the holidays, but I wanted to send a little reflection as we mark this artificial measure of time – end of a year, end of a decade.

Crashing into our world view

Crashing into our world view

…a decade with some pretty terrible horrors within it. I remember like yesterday my train ride to Manhattan just 10 days after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. I was still reeling from the impacts of them, including in DC where I worked. I went to be with my sister, a 3-decade resident of the Upper West Side. We got within a couple blocks of the WTC site – the fires still burning, the streets and buildings of Lower Manhattan coated in a dull gray-pink paste, result of the dust and then the rains, the snaking lines of rescuers on the molten piles of steel and concrete, the burning and taste in one’s throat and lungs from the toxic smoke, funeral pyre for some 2,000 human beings.

Terror as a weapon of vengeance had come to this country, as it has to so many other lands in our shrinking, increasingly crowded world.

The decade ends with an aborted attempt to blow up an airplane over the outskirts of Detroit.

We know our hands are not clean here.  It is easy to be the victim; it is harder to accept one’s role in the seething tensions and mounting grievances on a planet whose living beings are under deepening and widening strains and stresses.

Our human population is like a volcano where the heat is building and the hot gases need venting. But the explosion resolves nothing and the volcano remains.  Active.

Photo: Deanna

Self-reflection: a mirror

Warmest decade on record. Ecosystems in various stages of collapse. An epidemic of cancer caused by industrial and technological society. Each year, new synthetic chemicals created that the Earth has never seen before that end up in our water, soils, food, altering the chemical make-up of the planet – vast experiments with outcomes no one can predict.

Though something about those escalating cancer rates, and asthma in children, and autism, and Alzheimers, etc.

And nature under stress, habitats lost.  Beautiful nature, our source of art, culture and religion. Nature under threat, therefore art, culture and religion in turmoil.

Where is the hope?

In you and me.  In my 6-month old Godchild. In the local worlds that are being reclaimed, allowed to heal and regenerate. In the new land trusts and organic farms. In the new food systems eschewing industrial agriculture and hopefully contributing to its demise. In the courage of those who allow our new understanding of our place in the cosmos, our place within creation, our place within the living planet to challenge old orthodoxies and belief systems.

In those who are brave enough to walk step-by-step into a future we do not yet know or understand through the passage of a collapsing world view and set of values on which Western philosophical and religious thought were based. Brave enough to know that science and technology may be tools that will destroy our world, rather than evidence of Man’s [sic] enlightenment – that they must be made again into humble tools at the service of life, not ends in themselves in the pursuit of profit, pleasure, power, and privilege.

We have lived wrongly on the planet. At the end of the 2000s’ first decade, nothing could be more clear.  Now it is time to live rightly within it.

Lake Michigan shore - Photo: Margaret Swedish

Lake Michigan shore - Photo: Margaret Swedish

Evidence that this new creation has begun is everywhere. Evidence that this creation is coming with increasing energy and determination is everywhere, burgeoning and breaking through the destructive dynamics of a world that humans thought they could subdue and then dominate. We are reaping the whirlwind of that egregious mistake. Now comes the time of our humbling — and if we accept that and do it right, we can help make this new creation a work of truth and beauty — and even joy.

Happy New Year, Everyone!


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2 Responses

  1. Fr. Peter

    In the words of Rev’d Edward Everett Hale

    “I am only one, but I am one. I can’t do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.”

    there are millions of us that ‘will do’ Margaret.


  2. Margaret

    I know, Fr. Peter, and therein lie the seeds of our hope.

    Thank you.