Each friend I’ve talked with in the past couple of weeks has punctuated how we all have lost track of the global warming crisis, as the seemingly more critical COVID-19 pandemic crisis unfolds. Each person, including myself, admits to fleeting thoughts of how this global pause may be helping reverse some of global warming’s effects. (Is it really possible that the returning blue skies over New Delhi could inspire ‘Green’ policies?) But we all admit, as well, that our few hopeful thoughts represent only a very small part of the conversation on the front burner in our daily lives. Unfortunately, the bad news is that this brief pause in carbon emissions as usual is not going to help us at all in the long run, and that global warming (in that long run) holds much more of a potential to “take us out” as a species than does this virus. We need to get back to actively addressing our global warming issues, as well as the other wicked crises of our times. And with the presidential elections in the United States barreling down upon us, U.S. citizens in particular must get back to addressing all the critical issues facing our Democracy at the same time we are acknowledging our fears, irritations, and uncertainties about this global pandemic.
And so, I humbly offer some questions that may help get us, myself included, back on track with our spiritual activism agendas. How deeply are we called to activism in the midst of so many crises? What is it that specifically calls each of us to action now, in 2020? Has the COVID-19 pandemic jolted any of us into a longing to be an ever more passionate force for positive change on the planet? Is the looming probability of the extinction of mountain gorillas, bees, elephants, snowy owls, whales, or so many other precious species still the biggest heartbreak propelling you or me into making a real difference this year? Did the terrifying threat to human life and all sentient beings from the raging wildfires in the Amazon rainforest and in Australia last year, and in California the year before, compel you to be the change you hope to see in the world? Maybe it’s the inevitable pollution of all our remaining clean water supplies that has helped you make up your mind to join front line efforts to protect our Earth. Or maybe it’s the rise to power of so many totalitarian governments around the globe that now inspires us to work to save democracy and free societies the world over.
It’s a proven fact that when we humans focus our positive energy on one thing we love deeply and want to affect positively, we feel better, more effective, more in tune with our divinity. With our commitment to make a difference by serving what we love and value, our lives become more meaningful, manageable, and fulfilling again. I think the good news lies in the fact that the human race has had a time out – so to speak – to consider our own individual relationships to our environment, our social structures, and the meaning of our lives on the planet as a whole. I believe this time out is giving us a wide threshold on which each of us can make the most difference by realizing the most effective changes we as individuals can make. We have time now to shore ourselves up in our ability to take care of ourselves so we are able to build a more sustainable world for future generations. In 2020, surely there is a hot issue for each one of us to focus on as our mission to help get humanity back on a better, more positive, and more sustainable track. And, the sooner we tap into our commitment to do this, the better.
William Hutchison Murray wrote this in his book The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951):
This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’