Reflections from Earth Sabbath Celebration facilitator, Nancy Hardy.
The Declaration of Independence, which we celebrated on the 4th, didn’t just happen. Philosophical ideas were circulating and being debated for a long time before it was possible to adopt it as the founding principle for a new way of governance.
Many would say we’ve come a long way since then. We have been working diligently to make sure that our actions consider the rights of all people, not just white males. I hope we are beginning to learn that our continued existence requires the well-being of all parts of the Earth community, not just our own species – that all beings have rights. Ecuador sets a good example: it was the first country to declare in its written constitution in 2008 that nature has rights.
Sr. Miriam MacGillis of Genesis Farm wrote a blog titled Reflections on Independence Day. In it she says, “Independence is a worldview held by a culture that has not yet made the distinction between independence and individuation. Individuation is the unique capacity of a living being to evolve within the interdependent web of life in which it exists….(Independence) is an ideal that celebrates individual human endeavor but remains silent about how those endeavors are derived from or affect other life systems. Independence is a fiction, a mental fiction born of human consciousness. Interdependence, on the other hand, recognizes that human fate is inextricably linked to all the other life systems on the planet.”
In his recently published article, Rabbi Daniel Swartz, spiritual leader of Temple Hesed in Scranton and incoming president of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light, compares President Obama’s Climate Change speech to the Gettysburg Address and hopes that it, too, marks a turning point. He says, “It’s time – past time, actually – to stop using “cheap” energy that ruins the future of generations to come. We need to say carbon pollution is wrong, that harming our children and grandchildren through our profligate burning of fossil fuels is immoral and unjust.”
Pastor William C. Thwing of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Pennsylvania read Rabbi Swartz’ article and responded: “The issue of the survival of our civilization and the countless innocent species that we are in the process of taking down with us as we fall, is just as much of a “Faith Issue” as was slavery. Slavery was just plain wrong and the continued use of fossil fuels is just plain wrong.”
It took almost 100 years from the first writings on the evils of slavery until the thirteenth amendment abolishing slavery was signed in 1865. I don’t think we have that long. What will it take for us to declare our interdependence and then do what is morally right?