Birthing the New Earth, Together

Pope Francis offers to us that ‘Rather than a problem to be solved, the world is a joyful mystery to be contemplated with gladness and praise’.

It is tough to think of the world like that in the light of Climate Change - the dreaded ghost in the daunting castle of the Anthropocene. It haunts our humanity as we slowly tread towards what is now being referred to as the Sixth Extinction. Climate activists, environmentalists, change makers all over the world are feeling overwhelmed and weighed down with the magnitude of the problem we have at hand.

The truth that is being unveiled in uncomfortable pieces, thanks to social media and some courageous organisations, is enabling us to realise how the slow poison of consumerism has been fed to us over time by virtue of carefully crafted messaging. We have been made to believe by large corporations that we are not ok, that something is wrong with us and the only way we can be ok is for us to buy ‘something’. That something is what they sell and we buy. We buy into their story of our inadequacy. That then, becomes the driving force for this economy, that we all are living in. The economy, that is not working for our planet.

As Wendell Berry wonderfully reminds us: ‘The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.’

But how do we really get started given where we are? How do we deal with the polarised world that we have collectively created? On the one hand, we have the profit-driven capitalists who choose to travel even small distances by choppers and private jets and on the other hand, we are faced with 70.8 million people who have been rendered homeless.

How do we reconcile with the fact that while millions of homes are abandoned around the world, millions of people still roam around homeless? Or that one-third of the food that is produced in the world is wasted even though one in nine people of the world go hungry?

The situation today can be overwhelming for anyone and many people have chosen to live in denial. We deny that they we have a shared moral responsibility with the rest of the humanity, for protecting our forests and flora and fauna. Living in denial of our shared humanity also means living a life that is disconnected with ourselves. No wonder then there is an increase in the level of isolation faced by people around the world, across age groups and an increase in the depression and suicide rates.

So what do we do? Not everyone is cut out to be an activist or a changemaker. What is it that each of us can do, where we are?

Satish Kumar, in his essay on Soil, Soul and Society in Spiritual Ecology reminds us that ‘Our human responsibility is to restore and maintain harmony’. Researchers and peace builders around the world agree on this one thing - what we most need to do today is to find ways of bringing people together and to restore our sense of community and belongingness.

In her book Active Hope, Joanna Macy says, ‘To promote the recovery of our world and the healing of our communities, while also leading lives that are rich and satisfying, we need to embody a larger story of who and what we are. She further goes on to say ‘Our connected self is based on recognising that we are a part of many larger circles’.

We can do everything in our personal capacity to reverse global warming - we can stop using plastics, start composting at home, buy less, become a minimalist, adopt a raw vegan lifestyle, buy local and organic, use solar heating and everything else that we are being told to do. However, if we are doing this in isolation and not able to engage our community or if we continue to live in a disharmonious space or if we feel hatred for the person next door, then we have basically failed at the most important task there is, for birthing our new Earth.

The solution to many problems the world is facing today might sound simplistic, but it really starts with having a compassionate conversation. By being able to give our undivided attention to the person next to us, and subsequently to many people around us, by opening our hearts to them and being able to listen to them, with our full presence, is what each of us can do. I invite each of us to start with that. Climate change statistics, IPCC reports, the melting of ice caps, yes, all that is real but let us put all that aside. Let us focus on what we can do, here and now.

One thing perhaps that merits discussion, is that it is our disconnection with ourselves that could get in the way and hence, the work we might end up doing for self restoration might really be the most important work we have to do on this planet during our lifetime. Meditation is going great guns nowadays and practices like mindfulness certainly help but the one thing which I have found to be most successful in helping us heal our broken parts an joyfully so, is the simple act of service.

Can we make time to be of service to those around us, without expectations, without an agenda and without any end objective in mind. Can we just be present and listen? Listening to another being is perhaps the biggest form of service we can offer to humankind today. It is through this simple act of fostering connection, that we can hope for our hearts to transform and from that chrysalis, we will see our new Earth emerge.


(This content is written by Nnaumrata Arora Singh and included as a chapter in the book The Fifth Revolution by Immanual Joseph. The book is available for purchase on Amazon).

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