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What’s Climate Justice, Anyway?

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Guess what, Dear Readers? Writing With Spirit has syndicated!! No, I don’t mean the New York Times wants to include my pearls of wisdom in a regular column, I mean that I am going to run occasional words of wisdom from another source called EarthTalk, which is affiliated with E Magazine. Don’t worry, no money is changing hands in this transaction, because God forbid I should make any money from my writing habit, right?

Couple of reasons I’m sharing these posts: First, I want to keep learning and sharing information about what we can all do about the climate crisis. Plus, this will encourage me to blog more regularly. EarthTalk (ET) publishes a longish Q&A every day, but I’ll just share excerpts when the mood strikes me. Their words are in italics, mine are not.

The question today is whether wealthier people generate more carbon pollution than lower income people. As a person who follows Jesus, I’m particularly interested in the justice implications of climate disruption, the roles of wealth, poverty, and race in our planetary crisis. So this column seems like a good one to start with.

Read these statistics slowly, they represent human beings:

Yup, Wealthy People are Most Responsible

for Our Climate Crisis

The richest 10 percent of humanity was responsible for 52 percent of global emissions between 1990 and 2015. The richest one percent alone produced 15 percent of global emissions, more than double that of the entire poorest half of humanity. This phenomenon is called emissions inequality: Wealthier nations and individuals emit excessively large amounts of greenhouse gases, while poorer nations and individuals suffer the bulk of the consequences.  

The result is that pollution is harming those least responsible—and least equipped to combat its effects—more severely than those who are most to blame. In the United States, this is partially a result of systemic racism. Polluting factories and power plants have overwhelmingly been built near non-white and poor communities, which often lack adequate resources to resist powerful corporations.

Global income data tracks closely with emissions data: The World Inequality Lab’s 2022 report found that the wealthiest 10 percent earn 52 percent of all income, while the poorest half of all people earn just 8.5 percent. Why does wealth correlate so closely to emissions? On an individual level, people with more wealth are more likely to own cars, travel by airplane and own big homes that consume lots of energy.

From here, EarthTalk offers information on the stock market and how that affects climate investments. Bottom line: environmental benefits often take time to show a profit, so actions like reorganizing for a greener supply chain aren’t attractive to corporations that want an immediate payoff to stockholders. ET also recommends green investments if you do buy stocks. Check out Good With Money.

EarthTalk concludes:

Still, the blame for greenhouse gas emissions falls squarely on the shoulders of corporations and governments, not individuals. While many companies have taken modest steps to reduce pollution, overall emissions are still increasing and will likely stay that way until the governments of major polluters like the U.S., China and the European Union force companies to transition away from fossil fuels. Until then, the wealth gap will continue to grow, and emissions inequality will grow along with it.

I do not disagree with this. In the end, it’s going to take strong action by our governments. And that means we need to elect leaders who prioritize climate action. But I don’t want to let us off the hook. There are plenty of ways for individuals to make a difference. Conservation and lifestyle changes add up. And unless you keep your money under a mattress, you can help by joining the movement to stop banks from supporting fossil fuel production. Did you know that since the Paris Accord was signed, these guys have given more than THREE TRILLION BUCKS to fossil fuel corporations? Check out this action by Third Act to hold the biggest banks accountable. https://thirdact.org/what-we-do/bug-the-banks

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CONTACTS: Carbon emissions of richest 1 percent more than double the emissions of the poorest half of humanity, oxfam.org/en/press-releases/carbon-emissions-richest-1-percent-more-double-emissions-poorest-half-humanity; World Inequality Report 2022, wir2022.wid.world/www-site/uploads/2021/12/Summary_WorldInequalityReport2022_English.pdf; Good With Money, good-with-money.com.

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. See more at https://emagazine.com. To donate, visit https//earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

Stubborn Hope in the New Year

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So many social media posts this week sound like gasps or relief: Finally, it’s over! We made it! A fresh start! 

I don’t know what planet they are living on, but I don’t see much changing for a time. 2021 felt like a continuation of the dreaded 2020, except that it started off with an insurrection at the Capitol and the loss of one of my dearest friends to COVID. 

It’s hard to hope in the midst of the latest COVID surge and against a backdrop of historic floods and droughts and wildfires. Any yet. And yet. Here it is New Year’s Eve, a time of looking forward with hope to what a new year might bring. My pastor recently said that hope takes courage and determination, and it seems that has never been more true. 

We must be stubbornly hopeful. What miracles might we hope for? 

“Keep a fire for the human race
Let your prayers go drifting into space
You never know what will be coming down”
Jackson Browne

Pandemic Lessons

First of all — leaving aside the maniacs celebrating at Times Square tonight — most of us have been gradually learning to let go of bright & shiny distractions, extravaganzas, and expectations that we will be endlessly entertained by . . . something, anything. Spiritual sages throughout history have taught that “letting go” and “surrendering” are essential to spiritual growth. COVID has provided a master class in surrender.

We are learning to truly appreciate and sometimes cherish simple time with our families and close friends, those we lost to COVID and those still with us. We have rediscovered taking walks instead of “going for coffee,” making meals together instead of going to restaurants, reading books instead of going to concerts or movies or — well, anywhere. 

I confess I have felt resentful about those brief periods between COVID variants when we cautiously began to gather, to hug, to dine out. It felt like 2021 dangled hope before us and then snatched it away. But remembering those fleeting moments and the deep relief of getting vaccinated, I see that my thirsty soul was filled with a good dose of hope in 2021. I sat at a few dining tables with close friends, I ate food made by hands other than my own, I sang around fire pits, I went to crafts fairs and even made a few new friends. All of these are reminders that life will return to some form of normal. There is hope.

Possible Miracles

Maybe we will all be so sick of Zoom that we’ll reduce our screen time and enjoy time with actual human beings! Maybe the new habits of walking and gardening and chatting with neighbors will take hold and we’ll become healthier people, more in touch with our bodies, with our communities, and with the earth. Yes, there is hope. 

There is hope that the climate disruption we witness every day now, either personally or in the news, will be enough to overcome the evil greed that keeps our nation from acting in its own interest. 

I have hopes that the committee investigating the January 6 insurrection will hold public hearings to expose the involvement of past and present elected officials in the effort to overthrow our democracy. There is hope that someone will be held accountable.

There is hope, too, that the GOP overreach in various states to keep lower income communities and people of color from voting will be so egregious that a voting rights bill will actually become law. Perhaps our republic will survive when we are all equally able to cast our votes. Perhaps then there will be the will in Congress to reform the police and judicial systems. Maybe even protect our schoolchildren from the NRA! 

“Nothing is impossible with God,” says the Bible. And I believe that. I do. I just forget sometimes.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

My Own Personal Miracles

I long ago gave up New Year’s “resolutions” or “goals,” but I do have three “intentions” for the year 2022. The fact that they closely resemble my 2021 intentions does not bother me; I have learned to give myself a whole lot of grace. I am framing each of my intentions with hope:

  • I will declutter my home with the intention of entertaining loved ones in the future. I haven’t opened my door to friends since grief overtook me and entropy overtook my abode eight years ago. Clearing and cleaning my space will fill my head with hopeful visions of post-pandemic life. I may be stuck alone here right now, but it’s not forever. 
  • I intend to write hope into the world. This intention will keep me on the lookout for hope, so that my blog brings light into dark times. Please hold me to that, dear Readers, if I get too cynical or sarcastic. I also intend to finish the first draft of my memoir. It’s a hard process, reading old journals and remembering past angst & pain, but I nurture the hope that if I stay connected to my God, She will reveal hidden value, meaning, and connections in my life story. 
  • My last intention is most important. The lynchpin of my courage, determination, and hope is my relationship with the Divine. So my intention is to go deeper with God, to open my heart to hope and to miracles. I think I’ve become self-absorbed and stuck in my head during COVID. I’ve limited myself and God, forgetting that “nothing is impossible with God.” It’s time to reconnect with my source.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Her, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

The trump Riot: Grief and Gratitude

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I’m still processing yesterday, as are we all. January 6th will undoubtedly go down as one of the darkest days in American history. Whoever thought we would live to see an armed insurrection incited by the President of the United States??

My emotions are a complete jumble, from deep grief to fear to gladness that our election process has held up under enormous pressure. And of course there’s intense relief that January 20th is near. 

There are so many aspects to this tragedy, a glaring one being that — if we are honest — we all know how different the day would have looked if black and brown people had stormed the Capitol. Night sticks would be bloodied and broken, jails would be filled to capacity, and the death toll would have been far greater.

I don’t have many words today, though my mind is so full of them I barely slept. I am hoping against hope that Vice President Pence will honor his oath of office by removing the clear and present danger from the Oval Office. It’s past time for the 25th Amendment.

My main feeling today is gratitude, most especially to the journalists — print, TV, radio, camera operators — who put their lives in danger yesterday to bring us the stark truth of what has happened.

 An outstanding piece of journalism from British reporter Robert Moore puts into words what we all know in our hearts:

“America’s long journey as a stable democracy appears to be in doubt.” 

December 21, 1946: Don’t You Know Me, Bert? Ernie?

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Watching this Jimmy Stewart treasure has always been one of the high points of my Christmas season. I look forward to it all year, and I cry at the end every single time, even though I know most of the dialogue by heart. I’ll pick up eggnog and popcorn this week and settle in after my Zoom Christmas Eve service.
If you’re also sharing quality time with Jimmy & Donna, perhaps this bit of history from my fellow blogger Richard Daybell will enrich your experience. Merry Christmas week!

 

How to Prepare for the “Second Civil War”

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Today is the day that right-wing conspiracy theorists have declared liberals will start “a second civil war.” Of course the imaginary troops are all those “animals” crawling over our border and being recruited by Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters to fight against self-proclaimed “patriots.”

(Never mind that those right-wing extremist “patriots” are the ones armed to the teeth — don’t confuse them with the facts.)

Of course liberals are having a heyday with this ridiculousness, and it is amusing, in a warped way. Sometimes you just have to laugh to protect your heart and spirit, right?

The Liberals are Coming, The Liberals are Coming!!

But I think this made-up crap about an impending war and the need to arm oneself against people who disagree with you politically is no laughing matter.

I feel powerless against the lies and misinformation and the constant race-baiting and fear-mongering, not to mention the increasing number of crazies with guns. And if I venture into the world of Alex Jones, FOX “News,” and other conspiracy peddlers, I feel that I’ve fallen into some vortex of dark fantasy. Like this “second civil war” thing — talk about inciting violence!

Retreating to a Peaceful Place

I’m trying to limit my exposure to our national crisis while I’m in my peaceful place in New Hampshire. (Most people up here have taken down their trump signs by now, thank God, so I can pretend we are still governed by a stable administration.)

To avoid the news and my grief over losing my aged kitty yesterday, I’ve been blessedly absorbed in several books. First was a Canadian mystery, then a wizards & dragons tale, and this morning I’ve been engrossed in a spiritual book.

Father Richard Rohr is one of my favorite authors, and I consider him a spiritual mentor. The book I’m reading, “Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go,” was written decades ago, but its timeless wisdom speaks to the age of trumpism. I found the following quote especially appropriate to mark the start of the imaginary “Second Civil War,” and helpful in accepting my own powerlessness:

“Many things in life cannot be changed; we can only grieve them. So long as we are no longer under the compulsion of wanting to change them, we have the freedom to change them. Then the change comes from much greater depth — not from our anger, but from a place of integrity; not from a place where fear dwells, but from deep trust; not from a place were self-righteousness rules, but from wisdom.”

If, as I believe, America’s ailment is a spiritual sickness (the pure essence of which is embodied in the current president), then we must be especially careful not to “become the monsters we fight,” as Nietzsche put it. 

May we all be armed only with the weapons of integrity, trust, wisdom, and compassion. Amen.

A Shock to the System – Loving a Narcissist

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I found this piece to be wise and compassionate. Take care of yourself!

theempathyqueen

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I have been giving a lot of thought to those compassionate empathetic people who have had bad experiences where they trusted and gave their heart, where their commitment and loyalty was taken advantage of, and most of all, those who have experienced the psychological tangle of narcissism in their relationships.

Primarily, if anyone ever says that you, your behavior, your caring, or relationship caused them to be angry, harm, to behave badly, or abuse in any way, GET OUT!  An emotionally and mentally mature person is responsible for their own behaviors and claiming otherwise is the first red flag.

This is a mentally and emotionally draining and toxic relationship for those with high levels of empathy.  Because of how strongly we feel about human relations, and expect people to behave as positively and cooperatively as we, we hope to “love” someone out of that kind of behavior or think that time will change…

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Moving Van

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MOVING VAN:

My neighbor Van is moving. I was surprised to find myself fighting back tears yesterday when he stopped by to bid farewell. I have several real friends “on the hill” here in New Hampshire, but I’d considered Van more of an acquaintance — the guy who owns the pet cemetery down the road. I had not realized that I actually love the old fellow.

Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours sitting on the porch of Van’s little barn chatting about this and that, because that’s what folks up here do. This and that is front and center. Weather, wells, winters, tractors, pig slop, poison ivy . . . this and that.

Van occasionally beckons me inside the barn, a  country-style man cave, where he offers me a Budweiser and shows me his newest acquisitions, treasures like chicken-slaughtering implements, giant broken freezers that he’s going to fix one day, or burlap bags he’s stitched together to hold turkey feed.

We stroll in his garden and he points out what’s coming up and where the bugs have gotten to the squash and would I like some mint and basil? He shows me the latest improvements to his outdoor rainwater shower that he’s cobbled together from plastic pipe and a rusted industrial drum that once held God-knows-what.

Every week or so, I hear, “Anybody home?” and there he is at the back door, hands full of fresh eggs, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Occasionally he forgets I’m a vegetarian and brings me fresh bloody chicken breasts which I graciously accept and then quietly pass on to my other neighbors.

So that’s our relationship.

That, and politics.

Because here’s the thing: Van is a conservative. And not just a conservative, but a Trump-loving, NRA-supporting, “live free or die” New Hampshire conservative. The kind I’ve spent my entire environmental career fighting against. And I love him anyway. We tease each other, purposely provoke outrage, and shake our heads at our battling bumper stickers. And we laugh. Van has a glorious laugh.

Maybe that’s why I’m so sad that he’s leaving. In the time of trump, I wonder — will friendships like ours ever again be able to take root and grow?

My Friend

 

Advent in Paris

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No, I didn’t suddenly jet off to Paris to celebrate Christmas. I simply wrote a poem in honor of hope, in honor of Advent, in honor of the many people who have toiled for years toward what happened in Paris recently. Not the dark, bad happening — the light, joyful happening:

Advent In Paris

Between the darkness and the light lies the truth.

Oh, I know, we’re not supposed to talk about truth anymore.

Subjective truth is all we’re allowed.

Mine lies between darkness and light.

What it looks like, what you see, varies

Depending on which way you face,

turned toward the dark or the light.

In Paris, they turned toward the light.

In Paris, they saw the truth: the climate is warming.

Please don’t tell me about the shadows you see.

Political obstruction, elections, sequestration technologies.

I don’t want to face that direction, not now.

Look! There’s the light!

We are standing in the truth.

We are facing in the right direction, the light direction.

And we are ready to take a step.

candle

Seriously? This is Your Thanksgiving Post?

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Re-blogging this perennial favorite. May you be mindful and grateful, whatever you’re eating. Happy Thanksgiving!

Writing with Spirit

Thanksgiving Turkey Thanksgiving Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last time I ate meat was Thanksgiving of 1978. Once each year, I would forsake vegetarianism to make my mother happy. But after I told her I could no longer partake, she always made a huge bowl of special stuffing with no meat juices, and I would obligingly eat the whole thing. (For her sake, of course.)

I don’t think much about being a vegetarian, except around Thanksgiving. Although the day is supposed to be about gratitude, it’s really about eating a huge dead bird and a bunch of carbs. (Also, football and clipping coupons in anticipation of Friday, which is National Greed Day.)

I don’t miss meat, really, although I suppose if I knew I had only one day to live, I might make a big, fat turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce and lettuce and mayo.

Because Thanksgiving is all about…

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Four Ways to Cultivate Gratitude for Thanksgiving

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I like this post from the past, so I’m gifting you with a re-post, and gifting myself with more time to grocery shop, cook, and hang out with friends. Happy Thanksgiving Eve! And remember the wisdom of Meister Eckhart: “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” Blessings!

Writing with Spirit

A guy told me yesterday that he was jealous of me. Not in the traditional sense of the word, like he didn’t want me talking to other guys. Lord knows, I’ve had enough of that in my life.

No, this guy said he was jealous of me because I “treasure things up” in my heart. We had been at a retreat where a scripture was read about Mary, the mother of Jesus, treasuring and pondering things in her heart.

“You obviously live life in the present moment and pay attention and embrace it,” he said. “You treasure and ponder what’s happening in your life.”

Well, being the imperfect person that I am, my first response was muddied with pride, as if somehow I had something to do with this. I tried to look all humble, while thinking “Yeah, he’s right; I am pretty cool.”

Then reality tapped me on the…

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