When huge events keep coming at us…

Posted November 30th, 2015 in Blog, Featured Comments Off on When huge events keep coming at us…

…it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by sheer momentousness. These past few weeks have given us an overload of big news, HUGE news. One struggles to absorb the Beirut/Paris violence, and then comes COP21, along with record-breaking weather events of enormous destruction that hardly get much news coverage after a day or so, even though each one of them would have merited days of coverage 10 years ago.

Headlines like these scream at us nearly every day of our lives now: The Pacific Ocean Becomes a Caldron. And they’re not kidding. This one is worth reading in its entirety to get a sense of the climate chaos that is now part of our reality, one crazy set of circumstances affecting other sets of circumstances, and underneath it all the lessons we are getting in what it means to mess with the Earth’s climate system.

Source: NOAA

Source: NOAA

I mean, Texas may well lead the nation in climate science denial, and it is also one of the hardest hit in the last few years by extreme weather events that are probably linked to a warming atmosphere. Remember May?  And July 2014? And Friday? That’s when Texas broke its record for wettest year since record-keeping began!

During the ice/snow/freezing rain event today, Oklahoma was hit with a 4.7 earthquake. A previous quake of equal magnitude hit OK a couple of weeks ago. Climate-change-caused extreme weather event meets fracking-caused earthquakes? More than likely. Welcome to the New Earth.

And that, of course, is happening in the new reality climate scientists accurately predicted months ago – what will inevitably now be the hottest year ever recorded. The second hottest was – last year.

[Check out this link. It explains beautifully the meaning of two degrees Celsius of warming.]

Of course, it’s been a whole lot hotter than this on Mother Earth before, but we weren’t living here then. In those conditions, we would not even have been possible.

These weather events have become so common, we don’t think of them as exceptional anymore. It’s that danger of the human brain where we just adapt to crisis until it becomes normal, and then we stop thinking much about it – or what danger it represents.

Still, the polls show that most U.S. Americans want an agreement on carbon emission reductions out of the Paris climate conference (COP21) and are increasingly willing to sacrifice something to make it happen. Check out this somewhat encouraging article in the NY Times today about that.

Two-thirds of Americans support the United States joining a binding international agreement to curb growth of greenhouse gas emissions, but a slim majority of Republicans remain opposed, the poll found. Sixty-three percent of Americans — including a bare majority of Republicans — said they would support domestic policy limiting carbon emissions from power plants.

Public support for international and domestic measures to address climate change may provide a lift for American negotiators attending the major United Nations climate change conference that began in Paris on Monday. But the stark partisan divide on climate policy will still make it difficult for President Obama and his successors to put in place the energy and climate policies that will be needed to support a robust international agreement, the goal of the Paris talks.

And thus can an increasingly minority party in terms of actual popular  support control policymaking on an issue with hundreds of millions of lives at stake. (When comes the uprising? We need one.)

Meanwhile, take a look at what’s happening in China and India these days: Smog chokes Chinese, Indian capitals as climate talks begin. One hopes that death-by-breathing will convince more industrializing Asians that ours is not the path to take, but instead to dump the fossil fueled consumer economic model for something that makes breathing a healthy activity again.

Over in Paris, apparently President Obama had a lot to say today, refusing to stop when the beeps began. You can view the 14-minute speech in its entirety here. He is good at the moral call, not as prophetic in policy. Then when he tries something meaningful, like the Clean Power Plan targeting the coal industry, he is stymied by that party in the Senate backed by those same dirty fuel industries, the same industries that have purchased 24 state governments that are suing him for the attempt.

Meanwhile, I was watching Al Jazeera America this morning, the only news outlet that I could find reporting on Syria. It was a devastating story about rocket strikes on a market in a town in Idlib province that are being blamed on Russia. Initial reports were of 44 civilians killed and scores of injured.  And still some can wonder why so many “jihadists” hate us all. They showed the ruins of a building where many were killed, and as they showed Syrians struggling in the rubble to find loved ones and to bring out the wounded, another rocket hit…

Tens of millions on the move from violence and environmental disaster. Groups opening fire on innocents – in Beirut, Paris, and Colorado Springs.

You know what I mean? Big events. And I’m just getting started.

But I won’t go on. You all know this. Most of you visiting here know what’s going on and that’s even why you might visit us. We’re all looking around for those groups and communities with whom we feel some kindred spirit at the very least in being appalled, shocked, even traumatized by the way this planet, its living communities,  including humans, are responding, or reacting to the enormity of the changes underway. It’s hard to live with this sense that we have no idea how bad it’s going to get before the Great Unraveling transitions into the Great Turning.

FAMILYI feel like an essential part of my work here is to keep making these connections, to help others see that we are not being struck over and over by seemingly random events that makes us feel powerless and profoundly insecure. They are not random. They have causes, some of them deep-seated, old, that if we were honest with ourselves we could see and understand more clearly. We know a lot of these destructive energies feed on each other. We know that there is not one big issue that we can pull out from the whole and repair it apart from that whole.

But the grace in that understanding is that we can also see how it is that each of us can commit to that “whole” without feeling like we have to fix the whole blessed thing. In the same way that we got into this mess incrementally, each of us playing our part (however unwillingly or in ignorance), we can start right where we are to shift the whole by working incrementally to change our role within that whole. We can decide to overcome the ignorance, or the willful or unwillful role we played in bringing about this time of multiple crises all spilling into one another. We can refuse to be participants in what brings about the harm, while deciding to take a positive role in bringing about the social change so urgently needed now.

logo tiny without wordsDecember 1 begins a new fiscal year for our little non-profit. As we work to knit what is torn, fragmented, and broken in our world in the places and spaces where we are, where we work, where we are invited, we hope you will support us we move through this next breathtakingly important year in our nation. Your contributions are tax-deductible. We appreciate your visit, your support, your commitment to changing how we humans move about this planet – from one of exploitation to reverence for all creation.

Margaret Swedish
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