NOW FOR THE FOLLOW-UP
What practical meaning – if any – do you take from the blog “No Issue Is an Island?” (below?) If no human being exists in isolation, where do we take hold? If everything is related to everything else, is there any point trying to change things? How can we, individuals or groups, make a difference for good? Here are some possibilities worth considering:
- Offer to serve. Your faith community might be a good place to start if it is tuned in to needs.
- On September 21, 2014 a march will take place in New York City, with satellite events in other locales. It may just become the largest public call for action on climate change ever. The World Council of Churches, representing over a half-billion Christians worldwide, along with Religions for Peace, will follow it with a two-day Interfaith Summit on Climate Change. A work session bringing together aboriginal, Buddhist, Christian, Indic, Jewish and Muslim leaders will zero in on how the world’s faith traditions can best respond to current threats to the environment.
- Ask, why do religions – or peace-focused groups – get involved? Is it because they recognize that peace/faith does not live on some private, holy island – it is part of the mainland? That is, everything that affects the world or its people is religion’s concern. From another perspective, is the connection solid because environmental activists see that they can never achieve their goals if they ignore the impressive resources of faith? As Prof. Stephen Scharper of the University of Toronto points out, “With more than 85 percent of the human family embracing a religious tradition, the role of faith groups in helping articulate a moral and ethical response to climate change is not only important, but essential.”
- Do you like the idea of peace? Then you do well to ponder the words of Pope Paul VI, who said “The new name for peace is justice.” That is, peace is not a module to be fitted into a violent world; it cannot exist without justice. To move the world toward justice, many enlist in campaigns for a higher minimum wage or a stronger safety net. Or for broader access to quality education. That, in turn, may bring people face to face with racial and ethnic bias and adequate health care. You get the point: all issues are pieces in a jigsaw puzzle.
- A notable example of action for a better world is Habitat for Humanity. Habitat is a global community of volunteers who have caught the vision of “breaking the cycle of poverty by providing simple, decent, and affordable housing for those in need.” Having a stable place to call home and climbing out of the hole of poverty are linked.
- For another example, consider Ebola. It’s now in West Africa; President Obama calls it “a potential threat to global security. If these countries break down, their economies break down and people panic.” Republican Senator Lamar Alexander says that the Ebola threat is “as dangerous as Islamic extremists.” By any logic, then, whatever we do to deal with this dread disease spills over the boundaries of medicine, serving national and world security.
The take-away would seem to be beyond doubt: what you contribute anywhere matters everywhere. Instead of pulling back when we don’t see quick results, let’s recognize that “standing our ground” this way has positive effects. Nobody can do everything, to be sure. But doing what we can, with determination and hope, can help move us all toward a better world. Seeing every campaign for good as a partner rather than as a competitor can itself be liberating.