~ By Barbara Kaufmann, Charter for Compassion Global Team
word count: approx 800
Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine a world that is completely just, peaceful and sustainable; now imagine millions of people on the planet working toward that vision. Notice how suddenly it becomes easier to breathe, how your body softens, how your mind clears. That’s the kind of peace and future dream of the Parliament of World Religions, who along with partners, has a mission: to counter fear and hate; create harmony among the world’s religions and spiritual communities; engage with the world by lending leadership and religion’s rich traditions of wisdom and compassion—all in service to creating a just, peaceful and sustainable world.
Every few years the Parliament convenes in a major city somewhere in the world, and brings together about 10,000 people from all faiths. Ideas and initiatives are born and shared, information is exchanged from around the planet and the Parliament and its partners take another giant spiritual leap toward peace, justice and ecological sustainability.
A longstanding advocate for humanity, the first Parliament was held in 1893 with the most recent one gathering in Toronto in November of 2018. The main concern emerging from that collective body was the urgency of climate change. In 2015, the Parliament composed a document titled “Embracing Our Common Future, An Interfaith Call to Action on Climate Change.[i] This missive calls for changes in human behavior, citing “the impacts of climate change are already extensive, many of them appearing irreversible. If human behavior does not change, these impacts will become far more extreme, resulting in turmoil and suffering on an enormous scale with immense harm to both humans and other forms of life.”
The document proposes that all humans inhabiting the planet adopt stewardship of the Earth since we, the human population, share this unique living island surrounded by death at its edges, for there is no backup planet we can migrate to. Saving Earth is our common and shared duty and the Parliament document reminds us that we are inextricably linked as and in life, and what affects one affects all. In particular, the paper appeals for responsibility and justice warning that “People affected are, and will be, disproportionately the poor, marginalized and vulnerable, including women and children- those who have done least to create this crisis. This is a massive injustice.”[ii]
The Parliament reaffirmed their call to action echoed by His Holiness the Dalia Lama, Pope Francis in his Encyclical and the Indigenous faiths and practices around the world. A letter was drafted to renew this call to action addressed to the COP 24 President Designate and Secretary of State Ministry of the Environment of Poland, Michal Kurtyka and Patricia Espinosa of Mexico who is Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.[iii]
The 2015 COP (Conference of the Parties of the United Nations) commissioned a study of the impact of climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC.)[iv] The newly released report was to be introduced and welcomed in the ongoing COP24 gathering this week but Saudi Arabia, the United States, Russia and Kuwait objected to the document and its adoption. This comes on the heels of the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord and the silent release of a mandated 4th edition of the U.S. Government report on climate change. The startling U.S. report underlining the urgency of climate change was released cynically on the Friday after Thanksgiving only to become lost in the distraction of the holiday, family travel and “Black Friday” commerce. The report delivers a dire warning of “devastating impacts,” saying “the economy could lose hundreds of billions of dollars -- or, in the worst-case scenario, more than 10% of its GDP -- by the end of the century.”[v]
The richest countries in the world who are the greatest consumers and abusers of planetary resources, at the very body convened to discuss and address the world’s most pressing issues, objected to allowing in the truth of humanity’s greatest threat at United Nations’ COP 24. In fact, the United States instead delivered a presentation at the assembly touting the use of coal and other fossil fuels to address climate issues while the planet’s scientists warn of the dangers of continuing to use fossil fuels in this millennial challenge. The U.S. presentation only punctuated the massive chasm between the world’s political leaders and reality.
If those whose job is to mentor humans in matters of the soul, ethics, spirituality and conscience are all saying that climate change violates human rights and justice, perhaps the political leaders of the world ought to be “woke” by the very people who elect them. Maybe they should listen to the voices of their constituents, or better yet—stay in their own lane and leave the stewardship of Earth to those most capable of mobilizing it—the people. The people are the majority. Will your voice, your endangered being, answer that urgent call to action?
Barbara Kaufmann has been part of the international Charter for Compassion Team for almost a decade. She leads the Arts Sector and is Founder and Steward of the “Words and Violence” Educational Program and curriculum, now in its 4th edition. In the more than 600 resources about bullying in all its incarnations, you will find information about how we bully our planet with solutions. As “One Wordsmith,” Barbara tells stories in words, images and films. www.onewordsmith.com[vi] As Director of Walking Moon Studios, she has assembled a global filmmaking team to address cultural issues including climate change: “How Do Humans Heal a World: Sometimes Heartbreak is Necessary”[vii] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTXkf-Hfd5c
To learn more about the Environment Sector[viii] https://charterforcompassion.org/partners/environment at the Charter for Compassion contact Kate Trnka, Director: kate(at)charterforcompassion.org