I put “_______” in the title, because so many people automatically scroll past anything with “climate change.” Quite understandably, they think that they know basically what it is going to say, in main message if not in details. Since what I say diverges so sharply from both mainstream and skeptical discourse, I try to avoid the term altogether.
I just sat down with Jonathan Gustin in preparation for an online live council next Tuesday called “The Spirituality of Climate Change.” We recorded the conversation and Jonathan put together some excerpts. I’ll post the video at the bottom of this message, because it stands on its own independent of the event, and conveys some things that have really been on my mind around this issue.
The climate change issue is a gateway to truths about the human condition that hold whether or not you accept the dominant climate change narrative. The first of these is: What we do to the world, we do to ourselves. Self and other, humanity and nature are not separate. We may not die if the Amazon dies, but surely something within us dies, something precious, something sacred.
My main message to the environmental movement is to shift the narrtive away from our own destruction. From “Change or we won’t survive,” to “Change or we will continue to lose what is beautiful and sacred.” It is a shift into love. That, as I describe in this video, is where courage comes from. A parent whose child is in danger will have courage in that moment, because she cares more about that child than anything else. That is the kind of courage to change that we will have the more we fall in love with this earth.
Here is a little excerpt:
If I have to bribe you (with ego rewards, approval, acceptance, etc) into performing actions that take care of other beings, that means that I don’t believe that is actually what you want to do. Instead, I have to stand in the place that knows that you want to serve life and beauty on earth. And I have to know it for myself too. If I am going to know it for you, I have to know it for myself.
I think the environmental movement made a big error when climate change came along as an issue in the 1980s and it changed its tune from “Let’s protect nature that we love so much,” to “Let’s protect nature or we’re gonna die.” Because ultimately, why are we here anyway? Is it to survive? Nope. We’re all going to die anyway. Besides, on a deep level people don’t really believe the doomsaying. Civilization has been destroying nature for a long time, and humans seem to show no signs of going extinct.
As you can see, a spiritual question comes up in this discussion. Why are we here, anyway?
The only answer that makes sense to me is something like, “To shotgun three beers in under a minute.” No wait, that was in college.1 It is something like, “To experience the wonders of creation by joining in creation, by contributing to life and beauty on earth.” I know that the more firmly we stand in that knowledge of ourselves and each other, the more powerful we will become as agents of transformation.
The video sets up the event next Tuesday, which will include, in addition to dialog between Jonathan and me, breakout conversations and one-on-ones with me and a few of the participants. We will explore grief, beauty, courage, and love. It is an annual event — previous years featured Terry Patten and Joanna Macy. Here is Jonathan’s intro:
I'll be co-leading a special council on this topic this coming Tues March 15th, noon PT, 3pm ET on Zoom. You can sign up for FREE* If you can't make it, I encourage you to sign up anyway, and you'll receive the recording. Register HERE.
*We don't want a paywall to preclude anybody from participating live or receiving the link to the recording. We are doing this event on a gift basis. We will send a donation request at the conclusion of the event. If you are able to afford the suggested donation of $20 (or some other amount), you will be invited to offer your gift at that time. For now, just register at no cost to you and then you'll receive the Zoom link and the recording.
My personal goal for the event is to illuminate and activate something of the human being that is otherwise often hidden in our present ideological context. It is going to be a special event.The video will give you a feel for some of what we’ll be exploring:
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I actually achieved this goal, but somehow it didn’t give me the lasting contentment I thought it would. That is why eventually I moved on to other pursuits.