06 November 2011

An Epiphany? This Work is a Spiritual Duty

I had an epiphany recently. I'm still struggling to put it into words that do it justice, so I'll just tell the story.

The news on the climate change front is getting worse and worse. People who don't follow the research probably won't (and don't want to) know this, although the more mainstream media are covering the release of these reports more and more. (I guess the news is finally too serious to ignore.) And no, F!x News is not a mainstream news source.*

As someone who stays fairly up to date on the climate change emergency and who works with children, I experience almost constant angst and dissonance. Why aren't their parents and grandparents outraged at the international inaction? What more could I be doing? How should I be helping to prepare these kids for their certainly uncertain future? And why am I putting myself through this pain (of knowing what I don't want to know, of doing what I'd rather not be doing) when the evidence is increasingly overwhelming that we're heading over the climate change cliff and still no one is putting the brakes on!?

I was battling myself almost daily: Why are you doing this? Why don't you just relax? Why aren't you having more fun? Why don't you take more time for yourself? Why don't you allow yourself to do other things and forget about this climate change stuff? (It didn't help that friends kept encouraging me to see the positive things that are happening, to lighten up, to not guilt trip people — even though it's myself that I've been guilt tripping.)

Then suddenly (that's usually how epiphanies come, right?), not long ago, it hit me, or should I say, it was revealed to me (from the Greek epiphainein "reveal"). I have to do this work because it is my spiritual duty. It's like trying to become illiterate after learning to read. I can't become climate change-illiterate now that I know what's going on. And because I know, I must act. (See? I can't articulate it very well.)

Because I know that my Mother Earth is in trouble, that all the children of the world, of all species, are in trouble, I cannot not act. My membership in the human race means that I have to reach out, I have to do something. As hard as this is, to stop caring would be worse. It would be a betrayal of all that I love. And therefore, in my heart, I know that what I am doing is a spiritual necessity for me.

Here's how Michael Bloch from Green Living Tips.com describes the dissonance:

"So, given the doom and gloom, should we just stop trying to green our lives? Well, we know from a very early age that regardless of what we do, we're going to die anyway, but most of us don't say 'what's the point' and take our lives or just sit around waiting for death to occur. Of course we should still try."
And here's what a new online friend, Michael Murphy of IBI Watch ("Unmasking Ignorance-Based Initiatives") wrote to me just this morning:

"You are clearly disappointed — like me — that efforts to stem climate destabilization have foundered. But you are carrying on, and we have to keep fighting, don't we?"
Yes, we do have to carry on. Because if there's anything worse (for me) than not engaging in this ultimate struggle to begin with, it would be giving up before it's over.

* Hey, did you hear about the psychology study out of Fairfield University in Connecticut (by Linda Henkel and Mark Mattson)? It turns out that reading a statement three times, as opposed to just once, makes people believe that what they read is true. Repeated viewing of a claim creates a "truth effect" or an air of truth to the claim — even when people are explicitly informed that the source of the information was untrustworthy. That explains how F!x News works. And it doesn't depend on the intelligence or media literacy of the viewer/reader, either. So, folks, remember that your world view is shaped by what you allow into your brain space!

p.s. Cartoon used with permission.


  1. Brilliant blog Julie. Mother Teresa said, "You can only do small things with great love." You have done many things with great love. You have been unwavering in your passion, despite the cost. At the end what you get to lay down as a gift at the feet of Jesus, is" Did you do what you were called to do and did you do it with love. Be filled with courage to press in more than ever before. Now is the time. Much love! Ellen

  2. Thank you, Ellen. Your approbation means a lot to me. Mother Teresa's compassion is a guiding light to me, as is the life of Jesus.

    It's fascinating how courage and compassion go hand in hand. Sometimes my feelings of compassion are so overwhelming that no bravery is necessary. At other times, I feel so feeble in the face of all the naysayers that I have to pull from my reserves of courage. Thank you very much for your enCOURAGEment!


I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?