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Personal Transformation and Inter-being are Key to Dealing with Spiritual Climate Crisis, Panelists Say

30 Jun 2018 7:44 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

With gratitude to FCM member Carol Green for this sharing

“We don’t have an environment to fix,” Heather Lyn Mann said at a panel discussion on climate change consciousness and behavior at the Tampa Friends (Quakers) meeting house.  “We ARE the environment.  We inter-are; we ARE nature. We want to take care of our beloved as we want to take care of ourselves.”


Also, there is impermanence, she said. Things manifest when conditions are just so.  Civilizations come and go.  This thing called “climate change” is also impermanent.  If we can see it is also made up of non-climate change elements, we can untie the knots and not be too discouraged.  When we look deeply into root causes, we find spiritual pollution – greed, consumption, transportation of goods… When we see the path in, we also see the way out.


The interfaith panel discussion was one of several events at which Mann of Charleston, SC, a founder of the Plum Village tradition’s Earth Holders, recently led discussions about climate change, hope and resiliency.  Earth Holders is an organization in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition that sponsors retreats with Plum Village monastics during their annual U.S. tours, publishes quarterly newsletters and offers information and dharma-related insights into lessening harmful climate change.  Their website, www.earthholders.org, is a resource for plant-based nutrition. Mann’s talks were sponsored by the Buddhist Climate Action Network, led by FCM’s Andrew Rock.


Multiple organizations in the Tampa Bay area are attempting to organize to deal with questions arising from climate change, but so far, they are operating mostly in silos, the panel said.  A Florida Interfaith Climate Action Network has formed to attempt to coordinate efforts. Groups are exploring individual steps that can be taken through various programs. Mann recommended working with simple steps in small groups to prevent burnout.

Transformation has to happen in us so we can receive the gifts of the world, said the Rev. Russell Meyer, pastor of New Parish of Tampa/St. Paul and Faith Lutheran Churches and executive director of the Florida Council of Churches.   “If you have craziness inside you, you will give craziness to the world. We take carbon out of the Earth and throw it into the air.


“Tampa Bay has risen an average of one inch a year (during the last several years).  When we have a conversation about retreat, we say that’s where our tax base is – on the shoreline.  The craziness inside us is related to the craziness outside us.


 “Government action is usually about property rather than people,” Rev. Meyer said.  “Our language is the economy, but I think we should talk in the language of love. I see a rising collective consciousness saying, ‘I don’t know where you came from, but I am related to you,’ and that is the language of love.


“I am aware of how traumatized we all are, and the biggest (government) decision makers are children of profound trauma.  This leads to compassion. We need to practice it with an open heart,” he said. “We are in a profound transition in this nation from Anglo-Saxon male leadership to minority moving into the majority.  It’s inevitable.  There are serious issues with status loss and fear.  I think it’s a temporary fever. We need to be sensitive to the fever.”


 Beverly G. Ward, field secretary for earth care at the Southeastern Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), said there is a moral and ethical responsibility to deal with care of the Earth.  “How do I stay in a place of love?” she asked.  She said she was reminded of her childhood in Alabama during the civil rights movement. “If I prepare myself and show up, I’ll be told (spiritually) what to do.  I keep trying to listen, and the way opens.


Transforming climate consciousness “is a transformation we must talk about,” Ward said.


Mann said she believed transformation “at the base,” among people will be most effective. “The pendulum seems to be swinging in one direction, but I think people are getting sick of it, and it will swing back farther in the other direction than it otherwise would have.” In the meantime, she said, “none of us has to invent this from scratch.  Do work in your own home and find out what else is going on.”

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