Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Every Sacred Breath You Take

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                                                     William Blake

 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
 and the man became a living being.

                                            Genesis 2:7 (NRSV)

Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe

                             The Hollies (1974)

I came upon a broadcast of the documentary film called Force of Nature which celebrated broadcaster and scientist David Suzuki on the occasion of his 75th birthday six years ago. It is an interesting film, easily accessible online. I've included a link to six minutes or so in which he reflects on our reliance on the air around us which connects all living creatures.

Suzuki notes that we breathe in argon molecules which would have been breathed by Joan of Arc and Jesus Christ, interesting examples given Suzuki is not a religious man. He has come to an appreciation of the sacred, and he describes air not only in scientific terms but as a sacred element. Why then, Suzuki wonders, do we deliberately dump toxic elements into the air which sustains us? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iftqSuz8H4Image result

This is far more than a rhetorical question. These comments were so timely given the terrible reality in India at the moment. The air pollution is so dense that in the city of Delhi planes and trains are not landing or moving because of the dismal visibility. School has been cancelled for days on end. The effect of the pollution is the equivalent of smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Image result for delhi pollution

While this may seem like the problem of a nation half a world away, this is part of the thin atmospheric layer which sustains life on this planet. A recent United Nations reports offered the grim news that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increased at record speed last year to hit a level not seen for more than three million years.

While at the COP23 environmental conference Canada and Britain have come to an understanding about phasing out the use of coal by 2030 in an effort to reach emission targets. Meanwhile, Emperor Trump of the US persists in supporting a revival of the coal industry, although the world market for coal is diminishing rapidly. Honestly Canada isn't much a player when it comes to coal, but our greenhouse gas emissions from the Tar Sands of Alberta is a big deal conveniently ignored in Bonn.

As a Christian I agree with David Suzuki that air is sacred, as do other religions. Now we must figure out how we change our individual and collective lifestyles to make this more than words.


1 comment:

roger said...

Trump's hypocrisy knows no bounds. He claims to support coal mining communities, but he could care less about the effects of coal mining on surrounding communities. He has put the kibosh on a study in Virginia that would look at the health effects of coal mining. The man has not one scintilla of empathy or care about others.