What It Means that Both Candidates Were Silent
[The following text, written last night, was distributed by me today as a one-page flyer at a demonstration in New York City’s Times Square called by 350.org, which describes itself (see www.350.org) as “a global movement to solve the climate crisis.” It takes its name from 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which scientists claim is a threshold level that must not be exceeded if global warming and ocean acidification are to be contained. The atmosphere currently stands at 392 parts per million. The demonstration, which I fully supported, consisted of the unrolling and display of a parachute that displayed the message: END CLIMATE SILENCE. It was timed to take place just before Hurricane Sandy struck New York City. This flyer of mine was not approved, endorsed, nor anticipated by 350.org or any of its members, and expresses only my personal opinion.]
The Constitution of the United States was established “to… insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.” Humanity’s economic activity is now known to cause climate changes that are turning disastrous to domestic tranquility and the general welfare, but neither our sitting President nor his Republican challenger, during this current campaign, has uttered a word about their need to provide for the common defense against the death of forest and wetland, the acidification of the sea, the desertification of arable and pasture, and the greatest mass extinction of species since the Chicxulub Meteor ended the dinosaurs. As the world grows hotter, the sea rises and the weather gets wilder, the fossil fuel industries, ever eager to make fast bucks from fracking or pipelines or blasting away mountain tops, do their best to buy both candidates’ silence on the problem. And the candidates, aware that what will get them elected are credible promises of economic growth, not a prudently austere plan of greening the world economy, tell the voters what they think their corporate bankrollers will tolerate and voters will want to hear. But the common good is ill served by this, as everyone must realize when at last the Gulf States are uninhabitable in summer and the Ross Ice Shelf topples into the sea. What will the schoolchildren of the twenty-third century be told about our generation? That we tolerated a state that failed us? That we were sent prophets that told us the truth, but we preferred to put our trust in lies?
But the answer is not to attack the government, the candidates, or the propagandists for industry. The answer is not to treat anyone as an adversary, not to hate or hurt or humiliate anyone whose actions we see as aggravating the problem. They may be fools and bunglers, even complicit toadies for open evildoers, but so have we been, as each of us knows in our own heart. They are souls as dear to God as we are, and as we would wish our own repentance, forgiveness, enlightenment and salvation, so must we wish for theirs. To look to attack as a way to make anything better is to perpetuate a system and a world-view that have brought the human race to this present impasse. It means to harden our heart – which always makes us morally stupider. The spiritual condition that allowed us to start cooking the planet with our greenhouse gases in the first place was hardness of heart. “Private vices, public benefits,” wrote one of capitalism’s first apologists, as the triangular slave-trade and the genocide of Native American peoples were moving into high gear, and three centuries later we still cheer self-serving behavior in the marketplace as the engine that drives our well-being, as if predatory selfishness could bear any other fruit than more predatory selfishness, or an economy dominated by war industries could bring about world peace. No, if life is better now than it was then, it can only be because neighborly compassion has also grown and extended, that mutual tenderness which Aristotle, long ago, called “political love.” Rescue from today’s troubles will not come from attacking anyone, but only as a by-product of unremitting and sustained effort to extend love to everyone. At a minimum, this means resisting all temptations to harm others, or to tell them untruths, no matter how desirable the goal seems. Good ends don’t make means good. Only a pure conscience makes for right action.
The greatest teacher of this universal love was Jesus of Nazareth, whom both Christians and Muslims hail as the promised Messiah, and many of other faith traditions also recognize as a true spokesman for God. My own experience has taught me that He lives now, and that through membership in Him I and others have direct access to the Creator of the universe and Source of all good, in Whom alone we enjoy unlimited being, consciousness and bliss, though this eternal life is largely veiled from us now. Jesus Christ is my ever-present Guide, who shows me the path to walk in and warns me against errors. Only my faithful living in Jesus Christ, and He in me, allows me to do the works of Love and Truth that I’m now able to carry out. If you approve of what I think and what I’m trying to do, please pray for me that I not stumble. If you disapprove, please pray for my gentle correction. If you hear Truth in these words, seek me out and talk to me.