guest post by Peter Buckland (profile)
Our ride gave me a lot of time to think about our relationship to the creation. Talking with new friends like Joyce, Ben, and Pam or respected elders like Dorothy and Jon brought me to think so much about the good of the long game of justice and creation care. On my solo ride from State College to Brunswick, Maryland I saw light glimmer on ululating creeks, passed the remnants of the early 20th-century iron industry , and watched a pileated woodpecker fly over power lines into the canopy . The air surrounded me and graced my brow. I was in the planet, in the creation. I need this place to be whole.
Whether you are a Buddhist, a Mennonite or a Catholic, a Jew or a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, you are dependent on the creation working more or less as it has for the last 10,000 years. The stable climate of the last several millennia has basically made civilization possible. This world is a gift and we should treat it as one.
You can read history from a secular or a religious standpoint and see that we have long sought to control our environments through agriculture, animal domestication, construction, and fire. But we did not anticipate that we would alter this gift so much that people would rename it. Humanity became the dominant force in the Holocene—the whole period. Today there is a good argument from scientists, philosophers, writers, environmentalists, and some clergy who call the present age the Anthropocene—the age of man. Basically, industrial humanity has so altered earth’s systems that we are a geological and biological force on the planet more powerful than any other organism and on par with a slow-moving asteroid. In a five, 100, 10,000, and 1,000,000 years, the last two century’s worth of pollution, of construction, and the extinction of thousands of species will be present in the geological record. If this is the age of man then it is not the age of caring man of shepherds of the earth.
Is this the legacy we want to leave and the legacy by which a creator would judge us? When I say “our” and “we” I mean all of us to some degree, but particularly people who practice a religion. When you read dominion in Genesis 1, is dominion for domination that leads to the distortion of both humanity and creation? I hope not. Maybe we can all see it as dominion found in the partnership of marriage and the care of our domicile.
Our legacy through the climate ride is one of solidarity with and justice for those who suffer from climate change today and tomorrow. We have been called to build on the greatest gift we have—love. We love our neighbors, the riders next to us. We love our neighbors losing their homes in the Maldives to sea level rise, our neighbors losing their ancestral ranging lands to melting permafrost in Nunavut, and our non-human neighbors losing their homes or lives as corals bleach, bark beetles eat the Ponderosa pines, or who are parched from increasing droughts and wildfires in California or Australia. And we love our neighbors who will live in a fundamentally altered world in the coming decades and century because of a morally impoverished vision of life we and our decision makers could leave.
It is a fundamental belief of mine that setting an example of unified action and open conversation can lead our leaders to help us realize a better world. Our legacy does not have to be some frightening climate changed world. Our legacy ought to be one of caring relationships expressed in all of our ways of being.
Imagine a world in which most of us rode bicycles most of the time to do most of what we do day to day. What a quieter, more peaceful, and more creation-caring world than the car-congested carbon-soaked one of today.
Imagine a world where coal-fired power plants are displaced by quieter, barely polluting solar and wind power. How many more clean streams and healthy children would thrive together with less coal?
Imagine a world in which our cities were lined with wildlife corridors. Imagine a world in which we take care of the poor and disadvantaged because it is the right thing to do.
Something like that world is what I/we took small pedal strokes for as we rode, laughed, and spoke to our legislators’ aides in Washington.
What is your relationship to the people and the creatures around you today? How does your faith inform it? How will you serve the creation and its creator today in your actions? Tomorrow? In a week, month, or year? I hope that you will join us in spirit and talk with friends and family, your congregations, and our leaders to see that to love our neighbors in this new world we must love the health and integrity of our relationship to the creation. When we act from fierce love for all, from what some call the Holy Spirit and others simply call the right thing to do, we are our best selves.
Maybe, just maybe, you will find that you are called by something greater than yourself—God, people suffering from climate change, or the clutch of eggs the Pileated woodpecker laid—to join us next year and act from this fierce love. I am sure we would be honored to meet you and share this legacy with you so that hope may continue to live in our actions.
MANY THANKS to our 2015 silver sponsors Sun Directed and Beth Richards, KBB Realtor,
and bronze sponsors Freeze Thaw Cycles and the Rock Ethics Institute for their support!
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