Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Spiritual Challenge of COP 23

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The international climate change gathering known as COP 23 is nearing its end in Bonn, Germany. It is the delegation from Fiji which is hosting, apparently, which is fitting given that the oceanic islands of the world are most vulnerable to rising sea levels. As we saw during hurricane season, many islands have already experienced events where property has been destroyed and in some places permanent relocation has been necessary.
Today a twelve year old Fijian boy gave a heartfelt speech at COP 23 about the effects of climate change on his nation.  In his address he says that "the sea is swallowing villages, eating away at shorelines, withering crops. Relocation of people...cries over lost loved ones, dying of hunger and thirst. Its catastrophic. It’s sad…but its real." No child should have to make this sort of plea for the survival of his home.
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The faith communities of Fiji issued a joint statement before COP 23 and I'll include a portion of it here, as well as the link. Addressing climate change will include the essential work of the scientific community and the collaborative political will of nations. It is also a spiritual challenge, as I've said so often you may be tired of hearing it!


Multi-Faith Charter

As believers from several of the world’s faiths, we come together to express our deep concern over the warming climate that threatens the Earth, and especially our vulnerable seas and islands, which we hold in trust. We believe that we are not owners of the earth, but are its custodians, and that we are entrusted by the Creator with the stewardship of this planet. We are responsible for the care of our rivers and oceans and all the flora and creatures that depend on the earth for life. We cannot fail to leave a healthy planet to our children and all future generations.

The scientific community’s consensus that climate change is caused by human activity is a call to action for all the nations of the earth. We confess that we have been poor stewards and that humankind’s wasteful behavior and unsustainable lifestyles have led to the crisis we are living today: climate change and massive loss of species – fish, corals, wild creatures – and degradation of forests, coastlines, glaciers and clean water sources. As custodians of this great planet, it is our moral and ethical responsibility to collectively take urgent action to do all that is possible to combat climate change and save our planet and humanity.

The responsibility is ours, and the solutions lie in our hands through the scientific and technical knowledge we have amassed, in partnership with the traditional wisdom of indigenous peoples and the spiritual insights of people of faith the world over. We must sacrifice our current self-centered attitude and unsustainable habits and consumption patterns. We must now find and keep within us the will to do what is ethically and morally right, the foresight to forgo immediate gains for the greater good, and the hope that we can pass on to our children a legacy of living in harmony with nature.

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