I had a scare last month. My husband and I returned home on our 31st anniversary date to a telephone message from my older sister – my father had been taken to the emergency room with symptoms of stroke. Of course I called immediately and spent the next 14 hours on the phone and internet sorting through what was wrong with him and whether or not I needed to join my sister at his bedside on an emergency basis. Of course there was no question – if I was needed I would go. I rushed around between phone calls getting the house ready for me to leave, packing a bag, and making the necessary preliminary arrangements with airlines and dog sitters. Luckily, after a dramatic and somewhat scary night in the hospital, the doctors discovered a simple infection, got my father on the right medication, and he improved dramatically.
My father’s 91st birthday was five days later. He was back home celebrating with my sister and his beloved companion. At 91, we know the next event could be devastating. Every opportunity to nurture and love my father, I embrace, despite the 3000 mile distance between us. When the next crisis comes, I will be equally prepared to drop everything and go to his side to offer whatever help or comfort I can. It’s just what I want to do.
I think most of us have had this same experience with a parent, a child, a sister or brother, a beloved spouse or friend. It doesn’t matter if it’s inconvenient, if we miss a critical meeting at work or a long-planned outing. When there is a health crisis, we drop everything and go.
As I was working through this event with my family, and in the relieved aftermath, I could not help but think of the current state of the Earth. The climate I was born into is no more. The Earth I live on is different now; it is struggling. Ecosystems are collapsing. The oceans are acidifying. Species are becoming extinct. Glaciers are melting. Wild fires are raging. Water and food insecurity are growing. Island nations are relocating. It is a health emergency on a planetary scale – for the Earth and for humans who depend upon the Earth.
Why, I ask, do we as a species not behave as we would as individuals if a loved one needed us? Why don’t we drop everything and rush to aid, nurture and love our Earth-home back to a stable place? Should we not willingly stop our “business as usual” to make the changes that would bring nurture, love and healing to our world? That is what we all want to do for our loved ones.
Today, one of our greatest prophets, James Hansen, and his group will publish a paper which clearly demonstrates that climate change is causing all the extremes we are hearing reported in the news. With this sentinel study, he removes all doubt and all excuses for us to turn a blind eye. The 3200+ heat records broken in June 2012 are a result of human- induced warming. Not only is our Earth-home gravely ill, but we have caused the illness. We need to drop everything and go.
As people of faith, we are called to love and service. It is easy when it’s a beloved individual. It is also easy when it is, as it is now, all of creation. We simply have to acknowledge the problem and its urgency and then get busy figuring out how we are going to respond creatively, lovingly, immediately and wholeheartedly. North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light is an organization devoted to facilitating just this kind of change. Join us in this most urgent and critical work.
— Dr. Kathy Shea, Co-Director, NCIPL