The Shalom Report -- Arthur Waskow
Friday 5 October 2012
There has been a lot of talk about Etch-A-Sketch Romney coming up with still another new incarnation and a stunned Obama unable to respond. But my concern runs deeper, not with what they said but what they didn’t:
“The Earth? What’s that?”
The unspoken but ever-present, all but spoken, words in the first Presidential debate.
Nothing from the moderator, though more than 150,000 messages had been sent him urging that he ask a question about the global climate crisis.
From the candidates, only a scathing remark from Mr. Romney about investments in renewable energy being far too large, and a weak line from Mr. Obama about “energy independence” -- more US coal, more US oil, more US fracking gas, more US nukes, and oh yes, more US solar and wind.
As long it says “Made in the USA,” who cares that it is heating the planet beyond livability? How honored we will feel when on our planet's tombstone are the memorial words, "Made in the USA"!
Already we see, taste, feel: Unprecedented droughts and spontaneous fires in Texas. Massive droughts in US corn country and in Russian wheatlands, pushing up the cost of the simplest foods beyond what the poor can afford. Drought-driven famine in Africa. Unheard-of floods in Pakistan and Vermont. A full-page article in the New York Times on the unbearable costs of preventing unbearable damage to the subway and other underground systems as the waters rise. (“New York Is Lagging as Seas and Risks Rise, Critics Warn,” Sept. 10)
Is this all utterly new? Only in scale, the whole planet endangered. Indeed, some of our ancient wisdom understands and warns us. The stories encoded in the Bible of greed and self-indulgence leading to disaster are seeds of wisdom, growing from real-life experience, that generations have recognized as mythic truth.
The very first biblical story of human history points toward our own lives: In Eden, God, speaking for Reality, points toward extraordinary abundance in the planetary Garden. “Eat of it in joy –- but show a little self-restraint. Just a little! –- Of one tree, don’t eat.” But they refuse to restrain themselves, and the abundance vanishes. “The earth will give only thorns and thistles, and to eat you will have to toil every day of your lives with the sweat pouring down your faces.”
This is the story of the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, of Iowa in 2012. No self-restraint from the corporations that penetrate the sea and scorch the air. So what had been the glorious outpouring of abundant eating takes on the bitter taste of waters fouled, fish dying, corn plants withering in the cracked and baking earth.
Is it surprising that candidates for President will not face these facts? Again, the Bible is a prescient warning: Pharaoh oppresses human beings. When he refuses to ease their burdens, his arrogance oppresses earth as well. He brings on the Plagues: undrinkable water, mad cow disease, swarms of frogs and locusts, a climate crisis of hailstorms never known before.
Today, the Pharaohs are Big Oil, Big Coal, and the powerful politicians who support them or are silent when their Plagues bestride the narrowed earth like a colossus run amok.
Today the Pharaohs are the drug lords of fossil fuel, profiting from the addictions they have created in the disempowered folk who smoke their comfortable and suicidal products, oil and coal. As with cigarettes, the more anxiety, the more smoke. The more smoke, the more anxiety. The corporations profit. The people die.
The scientists have given us the facts. The moral decisions remain. Saving the web of life is a spiritual, religious , moral, ethical, political question. It requires a profound transformation of our culture as well as our politics. Politicians will not address the danger unless the people demand it. For that to happen, churches, synagogues, mosques should be the first to lift up the ancient wisdom and the modern truths. At stake are the many faces of God in every human culture and all life.
With hope tenacious and blessings of this Season of Our Joy -- Arthur
The Shalom Center
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