A resilient community means a stronger future

April brought amazing events to Seattle: a conference called Healing Our Planet Earth, the Seeds of Compassion events with the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu and a talk on Vashon by Joanna Macy. I participated in each of these, looking for inspiration about restoring Creation.

The Dalai Lama commented that the essence of all religions is the same. We have one Creator. God likes diversity in species, personalities and even religions. Desmond Tutu showed such abiding joy, even after all the suffering he witnessed in South Africa and elsewhere. He spoke of God’s forgiveness and encouragement of us all. Then he danced in appreciation of the 660-member community orchestra and choir that performed Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” All the performers were volunteers, like the thousands of others who made the Seeds of Compassion such a success.

Oh, the things we can accomplish working in community! The major events were filmed and available by podcast at www.seedsofcompassion.org.

The Genesis Covenant was a focus of the Healing Our Planet Earth conference, organized by the Episcopal Church. The Genesis Covenant invites every faith community to take action to reverse global warming. The Covenant expresses the unity of the world’s religious communities to face a shared crisis.

The Genesis Covenant is: We will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from every facility we maintain by 50 percent in 10 years. Information is available at www.genesiscovenant.org, including the podcast of Reverend Steve Charleston, who was inspired to develop the Genesis Covenant. Individuals and congregations can also pledge to uphold the Covenant to get changes under way in our personal lifestyles and community worship.

If we take a pledge to reduce our personal greenhouse emissions by 50 percent in a decade, how do we accomplish that? Each of us will find a different answer, unique to our lives. Awareness is the first step as we educate ourselves about causes of emissions. Increasing energy efficiency in our homes, plus evaluating our transportation and food choices are some of the areas to ponder. We will also have to act to strengthen our communities and affect public policy.

Joanna Macy, a Buddhist active in healing our planet, spoke of the need to use our individual gifts to restore the planet. Every major system on Earth is under assault: water, air, soil, fisheries and forests. Business as usual must change. “Progress” cannot be measured by growth that destroys the fabric of life.

We need economic indicators that recognize the value of living forests, breathing for the planet and sequestering carbon in their tissues. Shrinking forests, collapsing fisheries and topsoil reduced with each growing season are unsustainable. Plundering our planet’s resources must end.

We are living in the most challenging era humans have experienced: an opportunity to re-align our lives to celebrate Creation and community. If we deny the need for change or delay too long, our opportunity will be lost.

Macy encouraged us to do two things: Do not fear, because then we will be lost in wrestling resources away from one another. Build resiliency and community so we have stronger capabilities for the future. Our Island home provides an amazing place to affirm this sacred web of life and to let the circle of influence spread.

— Julia Lakey is an Island activist working on a number of social justice issues.

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