This is the most decisive decade in the history of humanity. As I write this it seems over dramatic even though `normality’ has been fractured by the presence of the virus and behaviours have had to be changed rapidly in the face of multiple deaths much and suffering. Yet it is true, this is the most decisive decade in the whole history of humanity. What do we choose? -disease, famine, conflict, continuing murderous inequality, because of our addiction to fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, business as usual, or a quieter future with green cities, forests, clean air and clear water sharing earth’s resources in the knowledge that we are part of one another, regenerated soil, thriving species of plants and animals, brothers and sisters sharing our common home. `Choose life!’ said the Deuteronomist. Which is the future you want? What will you choose?
Hope is a discipline, a choice to be made every day. We have the science and to a great extent the solutions if we are prepared to change. But indifference, despair and inertia all play their part. On the other hand there are many stubbornly optimistic people who refuse to give up, they choose life day after day; they are not necessarily looking for success but they know that now, this day, they choose life. Times of change are times of opportunity. Perhaps this has not been emphasised enough, fear of what is to come, apocalyptic descriptions of feed- back loops, loss of species, sea level rises, climatic disruptions, only takes you so far as a source of motivation. But envisioning a more peaceful and beautiful future can be a real motivator bringing people together, joining so many of the young who see the situation rather more clearly than so many of us. It is still a possibility but only if we act decisively now and for the rest of this decade. Choose life!
`they never lose hope…. In every region, everywhere they are the unsung but mighty voices of community, highmindedness and deep resolve; these people, the best of ourselves, are legion, and they are everywhere. It is the unwavering faith, the open hearts, and the piercing courage of people from every level of society that carry us through every major breakdown to the emergence again of the humanization of humanity. They are the prophets of each era who prod the rest of the world into seeing newly what it means to be fully alive, personally, and spiritually…..’ (Joan Chittister)
The slow inexorable rise of climate disruption bearing down on us does not motivate in the way an immediate danger does. We do not take the action we should. When we are faced with a pandemic, we can act, as we have seen – governments asking for radical changes in behaviour and getting them. What can we learn from the pandemic that will help us to face the huge crisis threatening and beginning to affect us all? It is a global challenge, it needs to be tackled with global collaboration. By trying not to infect the most vulnerable we protect ourselves- this is the root of solidarity. We see that behaviour can be changed. We see, and are told and time and again, that prevention is cheaper than cure. We are urged by the young to listen to the science, we must do this for both health, the environment and the climate. We have learned that we are vulnerable, this is humbling; perhaps this makes it easier to bow down in respect and appreciation for the gift of Mother Earth and all her creatures. We have found not everything can be fixed quickly, this too, is humbling. As deaths increase we grieve, we feel the pain of others. Perhaps we grieve too, for the loss of species, the flower that used to grow there, the insects, the plants that now are missing, and the animals that will never be seen again. Perhaps we can come out of this pandemic better, because we can only grieve for what we love, and that love may drive us to action. In the meantime let us take refuge in that love, deepen that love and grow in that love. `Death was not God’s doing, he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living. To be – for this he created all.’ ( Wisdom 1. V 3). Choose life!
Jessica Gatty, ra